Envision your team sitting in various seats in a large banquet room. Each member has a small empty teacup. You have a very large kettle of boiling water and your job is to make your way around the room ensuring that their cups are full. You have ten minutes to complete the task. Before you begin, imagine that you are blindfolded. Is the task now impossible? What would you have to do differently to complete the task?
Just as your team may now be geographically dispersed and working virtually, the task of leading is the same but the circumstances are different. The way you managed before will now serve only to inform how you will need to work with your virtual team. What was once straightforward has now become more complex. Everything you do needs to be more deliberate, concise, clear and timely. If you've managed any team, you know the issues that come at you on a daily basis. Communication issues, goal clarity, and productivity concerns are just a few challenges that come to mind. Wrap it around cultural and organizational differences, throw in a time zone gap and you have something that looks familiar but acts very different.
As in all things, structure brings clarity from chaos. A recent study by RW3 Culture Wizard indicated that a clear best practice for managing virtual teams is to have "more structure and rules for interaction." It's important for the team to get together and create a working agreement. This agreement should provide expectations and guidelines regarding communication, decision-making and collaboration. If your team does not have a working agreement, maybe now is the time.