Remote employees have become a fact of business life, and managing them effectively can be a challenge. According to a Trends in Global Virtual Teams survey, 20% of these virtual staff spend more than half of their day interacting with team members. However, 45% said a lack of face-to-face contact with colleagues makes it challenging to establish trust and build relationships, while 39% said it makes it hard to have an effective dialogue.
The good news is that many companies are discovering how to make remote teams work. What’s more, they’re learning that the key to success lies beyond a reliance on the latest technology tools. It turns out that a focus on interpersonal skills and process discipline is the key to driving strong results from your Filipino virtual assistant.
Here are a few basic strategies for laying the foundation for superior performance in your teams—virtual or otherwise:
1. Focus on tasks and processes, not just goals and roles.
With virtual assistants from the Philippines, coordination is more of a challenge because people are not in the same location. So it’s important to focus more attention on the details of task design and the processes that will be used to complete them. Simplify the work as much as possible, while making sure there’s clarity about the work process, with specifics about who does what and when.
2. Create a communication protocol.
Communication with a Filipino virtual assistant is often infrequent, and less rich than face-to-face interaction, which provides more contextual cues about emotional states. The only way to avoid pitfalls is to be disciplined about how the team will communicate.
Implement a charter that establishes norms of behavior when participating in virtual meetings, such as limiting side comments and not dominating the conversation. The charter should also include guidelines on which communication platforms to use in which circumstances e.g. when to reply via email as opposed to picking up the phone.
3. Keep track of commitments.
When a virtual assistant from the Philippines work remotely, there is no easy way to observe engagement and productivity. This can be partly addressed by carefully designing tasks and having regular status meetings.
Beyond that, it helps to be explicit in getting team members to commit to milestones and track their progress. One useful tool: a deliverables dashboard that is visible to all team members on whatever collaborative hub they are using.
4. Agree on a shared language.
Virtual teams are usually cross-cultural teams, and this magnifies the communication challenges—especially when members think they are speaking the same language, but are actually not. When the domain of teamwork is technical, then the languages of science and engineering often provide a solid foundation for effective communication.
However, when Filipino virtual assistants work on tasks involving more ambiguity, the potential for divergent interpretations is a real danger. Take the time to agree on shared interpretations of important words and phrases.
5. Take advantage of the best communication technologies.
Developments in collaborative technologies—ranging from shared workspaces to multi-point video conferencing—unquestionably are making remote working easier. However, selecting the best technologies does not necessarily mean going with the newest or most feature-laden. It’s essential not to sacrifice reliability in a quest to be on the cutting edge.
Here at Remote Staff, we know how hard it is to manage virtual teams, which is why we created a proprietary remote monitoring tool to put management of our clients’ remote operations at their fingertips.
From online timesheets and timed screenshots to work activity logs, website monitoring, and app usage tracking, the Remote Staff platform provides a real-time dashboard of everything going on with their virtual assistants from the Philippines and the means to manage them through integrated communication channels that avoid clogging up their inbox.
Building a good virtual team takes dedication, effort, and the right ingredients, but the benefits can be enormous for companies that get it right. In any case, we’d love to hear about your experiences of working with remote teams. What worked for you? What do you wish had been done better? Want to learn more about making virtual teams work? Let us know in the comments section or get in touch with us by clicking the button below.