Leading Virtual Teams – Field Notes from a CEO by Dr Maren Deepwell will be published in 2022 as an open access publication by the Association for Learning Technology, UK.
What is it like to manage a virtual team and to lead an organisation from home? How can you not only meet budget targets and KPIs but balance business needs with employee happiness and wellbeing? Since the global pandemic in 2020 forced many to work from home, there is now a big focus on what the future of working will look like and for many, that may include being part of a virtual team.
In 2017 I set out to find creative and fun ways to work and build meaningful relationships in a virtual team. To find ethical ways to work online, respecting employee privacy and building trust between the organisation and its staff. This book provides practical advice and case studies as a source of inspiration and a prompt for reflection for virtual teams and their leaders. From recruitment and induction to establishing effective and sustainable ways of working in the virtual workplace, this book explores the highs and lows of what it means to work from home long-term and sets out a new kind of professionalism for virtual teams.
About the author
Dr Maren Deepwell is the Chief Executive of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT). She has led the organisation since 2012 including a strategic transition to becoming a virtual team in 2018. As a trained sculptor and anthropologist, she brings both her creative and executive expertise to her professional practice as a leader, strategic advisor and coach.
There is a wealth of resources and inspiration in the Virtual Teams blog posts and podcasts from 2018-present. As part of the book writing process, I will also organise remote working radio sessions which are open to all and free to attend and there is a regular newsletter with updates about the book and upcoming events or get in touch with me directly.
Below I have shared extracts from work in progress and invite you to read along, reflect and share your thoughts. All these extracts are from the first draft of the book, which I completed between June and December 2021. These are early drafts, but you can get a sense of the ideas I am working on.
- Introduction: The introduction sets out the broader context and some of the history of virtual teams. It also explores why working from home isn’t a viable option for everyone and how do our new virtual and blended working environments impact upon different groups of people.
- Chapter 1: Setting out as a virtual team: This chapter discussed how you become a virtual team, including how to involve staff in the process, recruitment and selection for virtual teams and practical considerations such as choosing the right tools and platforms for the job, GDPR compliance and upskilling staff.
- Read an extract from this chapter: 15 October 2021
- Chapter 2: Building a virtual team spirit: Next, I am going to focus on ways to engage a virtual staff, managing people who may never meet in person and finding ways to create a proper team spirit. Some of the case studies in this chapter include show & tell sessions, team days and activities as well as physical items such as team merchandise, treats and presents.
- Read an extract from this chapter, 1 September 2021
- Chapter 3: Leading a virtual team: Is leading a virtual team very different from leading a team that is geographically co-located? This chapter explores what the reality of leading a virtual team is like for managers and leaders, reflecting on the ups and downs of leadership and sharing ideas for how to find your own virtual leadership style.
- Read an extract from this chapter, 4 August 2021
- Chapter 4: Maturing as a Virtual Team: Some of the most challenging aspects of effectively leading virtual teams only present themselves over long periods of time. In contrast to managing a traditional, office-based workforce, there are a lot of factors at play that you have little or no control over when you manage people remotely, from moving house to the impact on health and wellbeing. Chapter 4 focuses on the microcosm of working from home long term. With the aim to acknowledge and chart examples of the challenges virtual teams may face and explore ways to cope with them and establish a positive work-life balance.
- Read an extract from this chapter, 16 July 2021
- Conclusion: Towards a new professionalism: This final chapter reflects on what’s in store for leaders and managers, how to prepare for evolving working practices and what remains the same as we look ahead to the future.
Publication and Open Licencing
The book will be published by the Association for Learning Technology under a Creative Commons licence in 2022.
The book will be openly available in digital formats and a printed edition will be available to purchase. I’d like to acknowledge the contribution of all my colleagues, particularly Martin Hawksey, who whilst working with us, co-wrote a series of monthly blog post some of which will be included in this book.