There’s no doubt: the world has gone remote.
Even before COVID-19 emerged, remote work was on the rise:
Even as pandemic restrictions have been eased, it’s become clear that remote work is here to stay. With soaring fuel prices impacting commuters, and the rising cost of living hitting everyone’s pocket, the desire to work from home is stronger than ever. Surveys show that 97% of employees would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the remainder of their careers.
Whether your entire team is working virtually for the foreseeable future, or there’s just a shift in flexibility—leaning heavily towards remote work—it’s something every leader needs to be prepared for.
Unfortunately, leading virtual teams comes with many challenges. In a virtual environment, it can be especially difficult to effectively collaborate, communicate, and manage from a distance due to infrequent face-to-face contact, differing time zones, and unreliable technology. And that just touches the surface.
Remote team leaders face a number of key challenges when delivering great customer service:
The good news is that many of these challenges can be addressed with the right leadership behaviors and training. A good starting point is the RAMP model, explained by Onpoint Consulting in their Virtual Team Study Report.
The best virtual leaders recognize that they must enhance their performance in four main areas: relationships, accountability, motivation, and process. This is the basis for the RAMP model, and it’s critical in helping to close the gap between life in the office and life working virtually.
The key is learning how to leverage technology and adjust behaviors to replicate the characteristics of face-to-face teamwork.
The first step to success in a virtual team environment is to focus on building relationships. To do this, remote leaders must learn how to build trust, manage conflict, and enhance collaboration.
Though 77% of remote employees say they’re more productive when they work from home, as a remote leader, it’s difficult to confirm that. Accountability is the second dimension of the RAMP model and looks at how virtual leaders can and should establish clear goals and make sure individual team commitments are met.
How can virtual team leaders motivate people they cannot see? It’s not easy. Leaders must inspire, influence, and engage every individual on their team, and the team as a whole, to be successful.
The final aspect of the RAMP model deals with business processes. To support virtual work, team leaders must establish clear processes that effectively use technology to build relationships, keep team members accountable, and motivate individuals.
So, how can the RAMP model help virtual leaders achieve success? It’s about developing the right attributes, habits, processes, and culture to support remote work and collaboration.
Below, we offer 24 practical ways—based on the Virtual Team Study Report by OnPoint Consulting—to:
Relationships develop over time, requiring mutual trust and shared interests to succeed. Regular, organic interactions, as often as possible, are a must. You need to be able to chat over morning coffee, get to know each other over lunch, and spend time at each other’s desks.
The problem is that most of these interactions are not possible when you’re not in the same physical location. In fact, a virtual environment makes informal, spontaneous opportunities to connect almost impossible.
That’s why it’s essential for virtual leaders to develop processes and habits focused on cultivating relationships in a remote work environment. There are a few practical ways to do this:
To develop accountability, you have to establish clear expectations from the get-go. From there, you need to ensure that people keep their commitments. It’s about setting people up for success.
In a remote work environment, accountability becomes more difficult because virtual team leaders have fewer opportunities to observe their employees. They lack visibility into what everyone is accomplishing on projects and tasks, and how that fits into the bigger picture.
To overcome this problem, it’s necessary for virtual teams to implement software that offers the ability to share files, assign tasks, check due dates, communicate next steps, track time, and more.
There are also six practical things virtual leaders can do to keep their employees accountable:
Motivation is about inspiring, influencing, and engaging employees both as individuals and as a team. It’s the next step up from building relationships, and is all about facilitating excellence.
It can be especially difficult to motivate employees in a virtual environment where frequent distractions and unique challenges can impact performance. And since virtual workers also feel isolated and struggle ‘unplugging’ after work, keeping them engaged and positive about work is not easy.
Here are six practical ways to motivate your remote employees every day:
Making decisions and sharing information in a virtual environment is inherently different than it is in-person. There are many opportunities for misunderstandings, lack of communication, poor resource use, and more. Whether it’s technology or training, managing remote work processes is essential for success.
The more your virtual team members understand your company’s unique processes for accomplishing goals, collaborating, sharing information, and communicating, the better. Missing even one of these elements could mean that work doesn’t get done, profit isn’t made, and goals aren’t met.
The key is to clearly outline all expectations within the virtual work environment—and establish how employees can meet those expectations. Here are six practical tips to get started:
Scorebuddy is a tool that allows you to assess and collect data on the quality of interactions between customer service agents and clients. As a platform, it increases transparency so that leaders who complete evaluations and agents who receive those evaluations are on the same page.
When it comes to the RAMP model for leading virtual teams, Scorebuddy meets your needs in a variety of ways.
Working remotely presents a whole host of new challenges for leaders. On a day-to-day basis, virtual managers have to look for new and better ways to build relationships, keep employees accountable, motivate individuals and teams, and manage processes. It’s not easy, but it’s vital to success.
The good news is that the RAMP model for leading virtual teams helps you break down the remote working environment into simple, manageable pieces. This way, you can see exactly what is critical for success, and what you can do to make it possible.
Scorebuddy is here to help. We can be your partner in the virtual work environment, allowing you to run your call center as effectively as you did in-person. Learn more by contacting us today.
Read more about the RAMP model for virtual teams in the original study conducted by OnPoint Consulting.