Huge corporations aren’t the only ones benefiting from the virtual workforce. Thanks to things like cloud technology and the growth of freelance marketplaces, companies of every size and industry are now able to build dynamic virtual teams, tapping into a global talent pool and saving overhead at the same time.

Although virtual teams offer a number of measurable benefits, they’re not without their share of challenges. One area in particular that many companies struggle with is creating and maintaining a culture that is truly collaborative.

Thankfully there are steps you can take to overcome this challenge and get the most out of your virtual team. Let’s take a look.

Break down silos.

One of the biggest reasons virtual teams struggle with collaboration is that each remote worker is using different systems, applications and inboxes. This type of disjointed environment makes it difficult to get everyone on the same page. To avoid this, bring everyone together on the same shared platform through which communication, file sharing and other collaborative activities can be carried out seamlessly. A system like Hatchbuck, for instance, can keep everything operating cohesively, regardless of where each team member may be working.

Differentiate between tasks and projects.

Some business initiatives will naturally require more collaboration than others. For instance, scanning a bunch of documents requires far less brainstorming and coordination than rebranding the company or redesigning the website. Alleviate some of the pressure on your remote team by designating which tasks can be tackled independently and which projects require more of a collaborative team effort. In some instances, projects can be broken down into individual milestones that will eventually be brought together. Make sure employees are aware of the difference and understand their role in the bigger picture.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Being part of a distributed team can make staying connected difficult. That’s why communication must be a top priority for virtual workforces. Make sure everyone on the team is in touch with management and with one another. Utilize technology, such as instant messaging and virtual meetings, to bring everyone together and keep the lines of communication constantly flowing. As a manager, scheduling frequent one-on-ones with your direct reports can also do wonders for keeping everyone in the fray.

Free up time for more collaboration.

Your team can’t effectively work together if they’re wasting time on manual tasks and processes. Free up your virtual employees by automating as many menial administrative tasks as possible. When technology is leveraged to do the heavy lifting, your team will be able to focus their time, efforts and expertise on completing collaborative projects and reaching company goals.

Monitor performance.

You don’t have to micromanage (in fact, you shouldn’t), but you should have a good idea of which team member is working on what, where they are in the process and whether there are areas where your assistance could help move things along. Project management systems can provide instant and accurate visibility into what’s going on across your distributed team. That way you can ensure adequate workload allocation and identify bottlenecks that might be slowing down progress.

Without question, a virtual team has the potential to add tremendous value to your company. Of course, as with anything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to approach things – and there’s always room for improvement. By knowing how and what to prioritize and leveraging a cloud-based platform like Hatchbuck, you can maximize engagement and bring the value of your virtual team to a new level.