Thanks to technology, the modern workplace’s structure has recently undergone a drastic transformation.
Today’s workplace can literally span the globe. At some point in many of our careers, we may find ourselves working as part of a virtual team. If you are considering the advantages of incorporating this type of team into your workplace, it’s important to make sure that you are well-equipped to handle potential challenges so you can also reap the many benefits of virtual teamwork.
This article will explore some of the problems that may come up when working with others virtually, discuss how to avoid the most common pitfalls, and highlight the benefits of capitalizing on the global talent pool.
Staying on the Same Page
Problem: This is perhaps one of the most prevalent issues that can come up with virtual communication. The question is, is it is even possible to keep everyone on the same page?
Solution: By taking the time to clearly define your goals and offering a clear path to reach them, all members of your virtual team should be able to stay on track, regardless of the distance between them. Put someone who has virtual-team management experience in charge of the team, and make sure that every member of the team understands what is expected of them. This will help decrease misunderstandings and misdirection.
Communication and Culture
Problem: A team comprised of employees from around the world is bound to encounter cultural hurdles.
Solution: Encourage each team member to research the cultures of the other members of the team. This will help them gain perspective, understanding, and tolerance—and will also help mitigate any frustrations that arise when people communicate in different ways. Once the team has been assembled, it may be a good idea to have everyone share a bit about themselves so each person feels more connected to his or her teammates.
Problem: A lack of personal contact can be problematic because it can be difficult to establish a sense of trust and camaraderie between team members when they never get the chance to interact with one another face-to-face.
Solution: If possible, get everyone together for one in-person meeting when the team is first assembled to allow team members to get to know one another. If this isn’t feasible, consider having regular video calls to allow employees to see each other and interact in a more conversational, informal way.
Differences in Time Zones and Schedules
Problem: It’s amazing the difference that a single hour can make when you’re trying to find a time to hold a conference call or set a deadline for a project. With virtual teams, you may face the trouble of working with several time zones, some equating to almost a day’s difference.
Solution: To keep things fair, rotate the schedule for calls and meetings so that everyone shares the burden of differing time zones equally. This creates a more balanced workload and minimizes the team’s overall stress.
Although a few bumps in the road are inevitable, as long as you set clear goals and keep everyone on the same page, virtual teams offer many advantages. The diversity of backgrounds and experience offered by virtual teams lead to more innovative, creative solutions and results that will benefit the entire company. In addition, assembling a virtual team can reduce the company’s expenses due to the inclusion of freelancers and other remote workers and decreases the need for in-office work space.
Are you ready to build a strong, successful virtual team? Whether your team has already been established or you’re thinking about assembling one down the line, this is the time to teach the team and leadership skills your team members will need to get things done.
Contact CMOE today to learn more about our Virtual Leadership workshops.