Virtual Workforce Success: 5 Ways You Can Outperform Using Virtual Teams

Anderson Ozakpo
Virtual Workforce Success: 5 Ways You Can Outperform Using Virtual Teams.

Virtual teams, otherwise called geographically dispersed team, distributed team, or remote team, have become increasingly common as organizations look for talented employees despite their geographic location. In some cases, the reason why new businesses adopt this type of team is to cut down the rental cost for office space.

Although there is an increased adoption of a virtual team model, according to hbr, not every organization maximizes virtual teams to their fullest potential.

In this article, we will consider 5 ways you can outperform using virtual teams or a virtual workspace.

A virtual team usually refers to a group of individuals who work together from different geographic locations and rely on communication technology such as email, FAX, and video or voice conferencing services in order to collaborate. – Wikipedia

In fact, some organizations are not maximizing the productivity of their virtual teams. A study of 48 virtual teams and hundreds of telecommuters and virtual team members discovered that 27 percent of virtual teams were not “fully performing”.

Rather than consider ‘why’ it’s not working, below are simple yet effective steps that makes it work for successful virtual teams.

1. Be People-focused

Whether virtual or not, if you pick the wrong people, the team is bound to fail. So the first step must be picking the right team. One of the major setbacks of virtual teams is the lack of face-to-face interactions with team members.

In order to develop a team spirit, trust, and productivity, there must be a consistent medium of communication which includes social media pages or team communication tools to create a shared “team page” where virtual team members can share information and get to know one another. Create a feedback session where successes are celebrated and failures improved on.

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2. Build Trust

Without trust, there’s no team. Trust plays a very crucial role in effective collaboration on any team. Yes, any group of people can decide to work on a task but if they do not all agree, there’s bound to be friction and delay or even absolute failure of the project.

Hence, to build trust among team members, the team must meet face-to-face at the conception of the team. The team must be motivated to have open and honest communications. Personal preferences of the team members must be respected as long as there is no conflict of interest—this will enable them to trust their own judgement in making quick decisions. Conflict resolution must be swift and thoroughly resolved and leaders must lead by examples.

3. Develop Skills

Apart from qualifications, to have a successful virtual team, there must be mediums to develop team building and interpersonal skill consistently. For holistic development of team members, you may seek to consider:

  • Team building sessions — usually during all face-to-face team meeting — this will help team members socialize and get to know one another better.
  • Identify development needs for team members and leaders — then conduct training on identified areas of improvement.
  • Clearly defining team roles and responsibilities to minimize miscommunications and frustration factors that impair results.
  • Regularly reviewing team processes to identify time-wasting activities and make improvements.
  • Assess overall team performance on a periodic basis — also collect feedback from key stakeholders in the organization.

In developing the team, overall business performance is improved which will also positively affect productivity and profitability.

4. Create an Interactive Platform

Although with the immeasurable growth of telecommunications technology, it still isn’t a perfect substitute for direct human interaction. Therefore, to have a highly effective virtual team, you must leverage on these existing technologies to create an interactive platform.

Encourage team members to have non-work conversations with one another as they would do if they were in the same physical workspace. This will help develop interpersonal relationships. High-performing virtual teams regularly dedicate time to having periodic face-to-face meetings and leveraging video conferencing to enhance virtual meetings.

5. Choose the Right Leaders

On virtual teams, the impact of an agile leader is hardly hidden. It is especially important for team leaders must be sensitive to the interpersonal, communication and cultural factors that affect team cohesion and performance. A few things to look out for:

  • Team leaders must take responsibilities –when the team fails to meet performance objectives, and deliverable are delayed or low quality when they are completed—without pushing blames to team members.
  • Team leaders must have frequent interactions with team members, all forms of communications to team members should go through the team leaders. And the leaders should not be antagonistic in any form of communication.
  • The leader must be very clear about the team’s direction and goals.

Identifying, developing, and selecting high-potential leaders can be a complicated and difficult process. However, when you hit a deadlock always seek professional help.

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Have I tried virtual teams before? Yes! Is it working for me? Absolutely!

When organizations combine all the elements above, they become the center of team activities, and using them brings greater efficiency. By focusing on people issues, building trust between team members, developing skills, creating interactive platforms and choosing the right leaders, your organization can outperform using virtual teams or a virtual workspace.

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