When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, it changed the business landscape. Many team management practices, such as whiteboarding sessions, 1-on-1 meetings with team members, and team building activities, were halted. With the help of the cloud, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and team collaboration tools, companies managed to reinvent their employee communication and team management.
Now, since the disease is not showing any signs of slowing down, many companies have extended their work-from-home policies. Some tech leaders, such as Facebook, Slack, and Box, will even let their employees work from home permanently.
In the post-COVID era, team management will boil down to how well employers can balance remote and in-house teams. Here are a few tips and tools that should keep things working.
AI-Powered Project Management
In a remote-first era, when managing the performance of in-house and remote employees is the “new normal,” communication via email inboxes is not enough. It is difficult for both team managers and employees to delegate tasks, track deadlines, and monitor performance in cluttered inboxes. Given that, it is not surprising that collaborative tools have become essential for staying connected in remote teams.
With SaaS project management solutions, such as Basecamp, Trello, or Asana, team managers can break work down into projects, tasks, and to-do lists. Employees can assign people to relevant projects, share files in real-time, monitor deadlines via shared calendars, and track performance via visual dashboards.
In the future, the effectiveness of these tools will increase with the implementation of artificial intelligence. In fact, AI already plays a fundamental role in project management. Tools like ZiveBox, Streatejos, and ClickUp help project managers handle various tasks and make strategic decisions. They help them build a project team and assign appropriate roles and responsibilities to every team member. AI tools use historical data to perform calculations and perform risk analysis based on the project scope, budget, available resources, etc.
With the help of AI-driven project management tools, team managers can automate many repetitive aspects of their jobs, boost the speed of decision making, and enhance team productivity, no matter if their employees work side-by-side or remotely.
Immersive Employee Training Experiences
Future of Work already wrote about the implementation of augmented reality in employee communication and training. Employees will use augmented reality to share their work together in real-time from multiple locations.
With tools like Microsoft Dynamics 365 that integrates with Skype, managers can also facilitate employee training. Using the VR headset, employees can hop on an immersive video call and even read manuals and guidelines while working.
Many companies have already seen the power of VR. Walmart is a leader in this field. Namely, the popular retail brand uses VR as a part of its Walmart Academies. They have already sent 17,000 Oculus Go headsets to more than 4,600 stores nationwide to train more than one million employees. They create a 360-degree preview of one of their stores to test employees’ behaviors in different situations, such as resolving interpersonal conflicts, disaster preparedness, or working at a store on Black Friday.
As Brock McKeel, senior director of digital operations at Walmart, puts it: “Life happens in 360, not 2D video. We test our associates on the content they see. Those associates who VR as part of their training scored higher than those who didn’t.”
Enhanced Employee Collaboration
To keep remote team members happy, managers need to foster regular and effective communication. Perform daily check-ins and host virtual 1-on-1s to learn how your employees are getting on and whether they need any help. That is where IM platforms like Slack help. They are essential for simpler conversations and non-urgent questions. On Slack, teams can create multiple channels to instantly send messages and share files.
Video conferencing tools have also proven extremely helpful when it comes to managing a remote team’s collaboration. Software like Zoom, Skype for Business, and Nextiva, makes it easier for virtual teams to communicate in real-time.
In the future, the adoption of artificial intelligence and virtual reality solutions to redefine the idea of the physical office and create a pleasant virtual space for their team to communicate. Instead of traditional video calls, employees will be able to work together in real-time, regardless of their location.
For example, Facebook rolled out Facebook Spaces, a VR tool that supercharges internal communications. For now, it can be used on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It allows meetings for up to three people that communicate via avatars. While avatars still look like animated cartoons, Facebook is working on making them more realistic.
Augmented Team Building
Just because a team is working remotely does not mean they should not get together. Team building activities bring remote staff together, strengthen company culture, and minimize geographical and cultural boundaries. Many companies, such as GitLab understand the importance of team building for remote teams. GitLab encourages distributed staff members to take virtual coffee breaks together and talk via video conferencing software.
The use of augmented reality gamifies team-building experiences. The flexibility of virtual reality allows managers to personalize team experiences and adapt them to your employees’ preferences. No matter if they use these technologies to take a virtual trip to an exotic island or organize a virtual scavenger hunt, VR ensures technologies will ensure that everyone has a great time.
For example, Virtual Worlds is a perfect VR tool for a remote team that cannot get together face-to-face during the pandemic. It behaves as a VR meeting space, where team members can host a team discussion, throw a virtual dance party, or hold an interactive happy hour.
Ready to Supercharge Team Management with the Right Tools?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the idea of team management for good. Businesses are entering “the new normal,” where many things they got used to, such as regular 1-on-1 meetings or face-to-face gatherings are not an option anymore. Managers have to learn to deal with it.
In the post-COVD era, it is important to harmonize the in-house teams with distributed ones. With the technologies mentioned above, team managers will enhance employee productivity, eliminate geographical boundaries, and maximize employee engagement.
Which tips and tools will you apply to manage a team in the post-COVID era?