Event Managers must rely on a great team to successfully execute their events, sometimes across time zones and countries. Moreover, client expenses can often be reduced by hiring local staff and third-party vendors. Yet these scattered teams only succeed if the leader is careful to establish expectations, develop the right tools, and cultivate the perfect team.

From one-time event vendors to permanent staff abroad, here are the most effective strategies for managing your virtual teams.

Ground Rules and Expectations

Communication is key and should start from the very beginning. Put in writing your company’s policies on working virtually, including clear standards on deadlines, availability, response times, cybersecurity, issue resolutions, and end results.

Establish how you’ll be communicating. With today’s plethora of options for getting in touch – texting, calling, video chatting, instant message, social media, and more – it can quickly become a coordination nightmare unless you designate one or two methods for consistent use.

If your team is across time zones, ensure that the work schedule includes as many overlapping working hours as possible to improve coordination and productivity.

Embrace the Latest in Technology

The latest technology is a must for overseeing a virtual team and ensuring the final event comes together seamlessly. Research your options for online collaboration, like Microsoft 365, which has SharePoint TeamSites, document storage, collaborative online sharing and editing, and task management tools. Each company’s needs are different, but the software you choose should provide effective asset management and offer cohesive online working environments.

Besides content and task management, you’ll want to connect with your team frequently. Fortunately, video calls are common in most workplaces and companies like Microsoft, Zoom, and Google offer an array of tools for you to conduct status meetings.

Depending on your needs, you may also want to look into location trackers, progress status apps, group chats/forums, or other programs that facilitate greater efficiency.

Hire the Right Team

As anyone who manages a team knows, you can’t just throw people together and expect them to succeed. Take time to assess candidates and their abilities in a virtual work setting:

  • If the position requires late night/early morning work, are they prepared for that lifestyle?
  • Are they self-motivated and work well on their own?
  • Do they have a quiet place to work or are they surrounded by distractions?
Both distractions and isolation can be red flags and prevent a virtual employee from being happy, healthy, and productive. The same is true for vendors and other third-party hires – ensure the type of work, the lines of communications, and expectations are crystal clear before establishing an agreement. You’ll want to check in with your individual team members regularly – formally and informally – to see how they are handling working virtually.

It’s also important to create spaces where your team can come together to unwind and have fun; whether it be an in-person celebration once the event is over or a Facebook messenger group for sharing jokes and event puns. Team building is important when your team can’t chat around a water cooler!

Lastly, but most importantly, make sure you practice what you preach. From communication channels to deadlines and work schedules, set the example for your team and be a true leader, and these strategies will help your team create amazing events!

Mary L. Windham, CMP, MTA is the CEO of Occasions, Inc. and a passionate event professional with over 20 years experience. Mary is a founding member of The George Washington University Tourism Alumni Network (GWTAN) and has been featured on the cover of the Washington, DC’s Women’s Journal. She’s been a keynote speaker and regularly manages high-level events including the POTUS, dignitaries, government bodies, and celebrities. You can read more by Mary on her Occasions, Inc. blog.

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