Virtual Teams

Replacing the free by-products of proximity?

One of the themes that runs through our remote and virtual teams training is that we now have to actively manage a lot of things that used to be a free by-product of being in the same location.

For example, when we need to build trust with new colleagues in a face to face office, we have tremendous bandwidth to do that. We can go for a coffee together, have lunch and go for a meal or drinks in the evening. During the day we have multiple opportunities to observe their behaviours, how hard they are working and how they interact with others.

All of these opportunities give us a chance to evaluate people’s character and capability – the two key elements in building trust.

When we try to do this remotely it is relatively simple to establish capability. We look at whether people are reliable and deliver the results that are expected.

However, evaluating character is much more difficult. There are many more opportunities for misunderstanding in remote communication and fewer opportunities to observe how people interact.

Because of this, remote managers need to have trust building as an explicit part of their leadership agenda in a way that’s rarely necessary in face to face teams (unless you have a problem).

We need to create opportunities for people to demonstrate capability and character to new colleagues and we need to be much more sensitised to trust problems in our teams.

It’s a similar story with team spirit and staying visible when working remotely. it’s great if you can go bowling together, but harder to achieve if you never meet face to face.

What are the other free by-products you (used to) get from having your people in one location? For each of these we need to think about how we can put this topic more actively on our leadership agenda and deliver the valuable outcome remotely?

Take a look at our interactive remote and virtual teams learning path and click on the modules to see the contents of our training – including modules on staying visible and building trust virtually.

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