Virtual Team Performance: Redefining Success for Remote Work
It’s official: virtual teams are here to stay. According to the New York Times, the percentage of paid full-time workdays completed at home has evened out into a steady plateau since the pandemic, settling at 27% in early 2023. In fact, Zippia reports that the average U.S. worker works 5.8 remote days per month, leading many to believe that the integration of remote work is our new normal.
Virtual teams have just as high a capacity for efficient, optimized team performance as in-person teams — provided their supervisors tailor their strategy execution for remote work. Now, it’s up to businesses to seize the opportunity, foster a high-performance business culture for remote workers and in-person teams alike, and take full advantage of the benefits of this system.
How to Align Your Virtual Teams for Success
High-performing teams are intentional. They don’t leave things to chance — instead, they face potential challenges deliberately with prepared action plans and protocols. But what sorts of scenarios should they prepare for? The Achieve System™ has helped countless businesses adjust to change and optimize their systems and processes for their unique situations. Read on for our performance experts’ tips on how to prepare for the challenges of remote work and how to capitalize on its advantages.
High-Performing Teams Commit to Effective Communication
Communication is key for all variations of teamwork, but virtual teams in particular should make it a top priority. While in-office team members can sometimes patch the holes of less deliberate communication with office chat and impromptu questions, virtual teams do not have this opportunity. Instead, they must make a conscious commitment to effective, efficient communication.
So what does that look like for remote teams? The best remote teams optimize their communication by prioritizing clarity and brevity. They include all information necessary for peak strategy execution and team performance without going off-topic, doing their teammates’ work, or micromanaging. Brevity doesn’t necessarily mean that all messages are short; instead, it means they are only as long as they need to be.
While a high-performance business culture values efficient communication, it still takes care not to inadvertently discourage communication. The objective of reducing unnecessary communication is to leave space for questions, clarification, and dialogue. High-performing teams have a culture of open communication, with team members offering ideas and asking for more explanations freely. This is an important part of optimizing virtual team performance, and it shouldn’t get lost among repeat requests and off-topic exchanges.
Peak Strategy Execution Comes From Clearly Defined Roles and Responsibilities
As every business leader knows, it’s imperative that each team member understands their own responsibilities. However, understanding each other’s responsibilities, roles, and skills elevates teams one step closer to achieving a high-performance business culture.
When everyone is on the same page about the roles in the group, the whole team can swiftly determine which team members they should turn to for help, which tasks are beyond their scope, and to which projects they can offer their own assistance. The group as a whole can adapt to challenges flexibly and innovate efficiently, boosting the performance of the business unit and increasing its value.
High-Performing Teams Establish a Respectful Protocol for Managing Productive Conflict
Internal conflict is often tricky to resolve, but it can be especially challenging when team members only interact remotely. Without in-person contact, frustrations can flourish and misunderstandings can grow beyond their initial scope. The best way to handle remote disagreements smoothly and to re-establish peak team performance is to have an action plan ready that both employees and supervisors are familiar with and agree to follow.
Workplaces that maintain a high-performance business culture address extended disagreements privately or with a supervisor present. They avoid working through conflict in the team chat so that the rest of the group is not affected. Instead, they bring the team back to a working mentality by identifying a common goal and uniting the conflicting parties around it.
Occasional disagreements are normal, but many conflicts can be prevented by following a simple rule: everyone can contribute to discussions and voice their ideas and disagreements, but once a decision is made, the team must all commit to working towards it. High-performing teams thrive on discussion, but they work together on their chosen strategy execution when it’s time to move on.
High-Performance Business Cultures Create Opportunities Rather than Fixating on Drawbacks
As with any type of office setup, remote work has its advantages and its disadvantages. Since it is a relatively new and unfamiliar option for many of us, we tend to patch over its disadvantages with the goal of making things more similar to in-office work. Instead, high-performing teams consider the opportunities specific to virtual work and use them to create a workplace culture where they can thrive.
Remote teams tend to have more efficient meetings, with scheduled start and end times and a clearly defined purpose. There is less idle chatting, which leaves room for more productive discussion or a quicker meeting runtime. The best-performing teams use these more efficient meetings to their advantage, taking a look at their scheduling process and figuring out how to optimize the process for their own needs.
High-performing remote teams also benefit from the lack of an office, expanding their pool of prospective team members exponentially. Virtual teams can hire the best employee for the job no matter how far away they live, allowing high-performance teams to thrive and work at their best. Some business leaders would see working across multiple time zones as a challenge, but for teams that adopt a Create, Don’t Fix mindset, it can be an opportunity instead.
No matter the issue at hand, the key to high performance is to shift focus from fixing problems to creating opportunities.
Boost Team Performance with the Achieve System
If your team is going through a disruption in your typical operations, if you’re struggling with a drop in performance, if you’re hoping to leverage all of your assets to their peak potential, or if you’d just like to optimize your processes as a competitive advantage, the Achieve System can help. The Achieve System is a sustainable, scalable performance improvement methodology that helps organizations define success and create the systems they need to reach it.
Our performance experts specialize in helping leaders apply the Achieve System to optimize strategy execution and team performance. We can help you create a high-performing team and a high-performance business culture. Contact us today to learn how we can help your team achieve a business performance transformation.