The rise of virtual teams

19 Mar 2020

The government’s current advice for people to work from home is leading many of our clients to develop contingency plans for their businesses and to redesign how their people do work. Being on the receiving end of imposed change and, perhaps, experiencing a perceived sense of loss of control and connection will undoubtedly take its toll on many individuals.


On the bright side, several teams are taking the opportunity to fast-track the reinvention of how they interact, deliver, make decisions and build the team spirit they enjoy in the office, even though team members are far flung.


Our top tips for making this work are:

  • Be available for the team more now than ever – at unexpected times.

  • Establish new expectations and ground rules if the team are not used to working remotely.

  • Organise regular discussions, both one-to-one and with the full team.

  • Continue to have informal conversations – use the margins of scheduled virtual meetings for ‘water cooler’ moments.

  • Set up team messaging groups (WhatsApp or Signal) – or many groups, for discrete projects and specific client teams.

  • Be the first to turn on your camera – to encourage the others!

  • Set up a ‘virtual water cooler’ at the same time each day, for informal interaction.

  • Focus on outcomes – priorities and goals need to be extra clear and understood by all the relevant people.

  • Be creative to help the team gel and keep having lunches or coffees ‘together’.

  • Treat time zones fairly if the team is spread out globally, rotating rather than always having the same team member up early/late.

  • Keep managing performance and giving feedback – this can still be face-to-face by turning on our laptop cameras.

  • Minimise email use and maximise other channels.

Here at Nicholson McBride Change we have worked with many remote teams, and have significant experience of using virtual media – for workshops, focus groups, meetings, development programmes and group or one-to-one coaching. So if you feel you could benefit from this experience, to help your people to stay in touch, to facilitate urgent requirements which can’t be done face-to-face, or to help support them through this challenging period, please get in touch. For example, we are currently running virtual sessions on how to facilitate effective virtual meetings, how to develop virtual teams, and on building your personal resilience. And most of our coaching assignments are going ahead using Zoom, Teams, WebEx, Skype or even a mobile.


Sending you, your teams and your families all the very best wishes to stay safe and well.

The rise of virtual teams