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Managing virtual teams. Some key principles.

Managing virtual teams. Some key principles.

Posted by Vlerick Business School
on Dec 3, 2018
in Leadership

Our way of working has changed: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous - that’s the world we’re all working in. We get out of bed, check our emails, grab breakfast and get in the car. Then we spend an hour or two in traffic before we finally arrive at our workplace. But we don’t give ourselves a chance of handling it if we simply sit behind a desk from 9-5. Instead, we work from anywhere at any time. But in a world where a lot of what we do is not tied to a specific place, does this make sense anymore?

But how do we make sure that anytime, anywhere does not become all the time and everywhere? Because being ‘always on’ can hinder performance and morale.

Flexible leadership

Has your management style changed with it? Increasingly, employees enjoy working flexibly, working some days from home and coming in to meetings on others. So how do we manage teams when they’re not on site? Professor Dirk Buyens from Vlerick Business School says: “We need to move away from evaluating people based on their input – for example, the amount of hours a boss can see them working. It can be helpful to start evaluating in terms of output instead – so what you as an individual or a team produce.

Trust us key

“To do this we need to have a different definition of what trust means in a workplace. Flexibility does not mean giving greater freedom to people – it means giving them greater levels of responsibility and accountability.” Professor Buyens says: “We are used to having a code of conduct for the place where we work. And as people work more flexibly, it makes sense for a code of conduct to extend to virtual working too. “A code of conduct can set out a philosophy for what “working” looks like – no matter where it happens. So you could say that we always work in noise-free environments – so no babies crying or dogs barking in the background at home. And we always wear certain clothing, no matter where we work. “It’s not about having regulations and rules – it’s about having a shared vision and philosophy about what work looks like, wherever it happens.” Organisations, team leaders and team members need to share responsibilities.

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