Virtual Teams are a great way to bring new talent into the workforce. More and more employees are working from home nowadays thanks to advances in technology. People working from home are found to be happier individuals because they are saving time and money while also avoiding the stress of the commute. Employers are also benefiting from Virtual Team members by having access to a larger selection of potential employees, having fewer absences, more productivity, and saving money. Along with these advantages come challenges. Knowing how to avoid them is critical for a leader to manage a successful Virtual Team. In this post, we will discuss the top three trials of Virtual Teams and how to prevent them.
Virtual Team Challenge Tip # 1: A great need for non-verbal, face to face communication.
With Virtual teams, there is a shortage of the usual interactions between employees and leaders that we see in the office. Such as coffee in the break
room, or discussing ideas with the team at lunch. It is the visual communication that gives employers and their employees the confidence that everyone is on the same page.
Sometimes employees working from home will go days without interaction from fellow team members and their manager. Without contact, team members may begin to feel shut out and less important to the company. These emotions make employees less likely to express their ideas toward team goals, therefore, causing setbacks in productivity.
Communication must be increased daily. Leaders should create smaller group managed tasks. Group assignments give team members the chance to interact more often and develop camaraderie by attaining goals together. Team leaders should also communicate often with individuals of the Virtual Team to create strong mutual bonds. This will ease feelings of isolation of the employee and in turn, increase their enthusiasm to contribute. This overall leads to cutting edge ideas.
Virtual Team Challenge Tip # 2: Shortage of Social Interaction.
It is often hard for Virtual Team members to build friendships with one another. The lack of interaction with one another makes it difficult for each member to know how their contributions are helping the company to reach its goals. Look at it this way: the company’s goal is like a puzzle and the tasks assigned to each employee are the pieces, if each employee can see all of the pieces they will have a better idea of how they fit into the puzzle. Having a clear picture of the goal, increases the accuracy and efficiency of their work.
Virtual team leaders should use IM more frequently to encourage banter between team members. Instant Messenger can be used effectively to communicate the progress of each team member, and to inform each other of general happenings in life that temporally halt their work. Such as a vacation, health care appointment, death in the family, etc. Another way to communicate life events is to pencil in time during meetings (usually before getting down to business) for quick, informative updates on each other’s fast approaching plans.
Virtual Team Challenge Tip # 3: Trust Issues.
Building trust in Virtual Team members is hard when you don’t know what other members are doing, and your correspondence is not as immediate as it is in an office setting. Trust can especially be a problem when the Virtual Team is working in tandem on a project with a fellow employee who works in the office. Office employees may stereotype those who work from home as lazy and distracted individuals.
Members of a team need to know each others contributions to build trust. Leaders should be clear on their expectations and announce each member’s tasks to all team members. Also, managers should give feedback and posting individual achievements instills confidence that everyone on the team can perform up to standards.
The type of leader you are can have an effect on your team members. Individuals tend to trust and follow a supporting kind of leader. One who is more concerned about the employee’s welfare than getting results.
Running a Virtual Team can be very beneficial for your company, but you have to run it right. Remember to communicate often, make your expectations of individual members clear, and give lots of feedback to the employee’s while posting their achievements so all of the team can see the progress they are making. Do this, and you will have a smooth operating Virtual Team.
Copyright 2016 Viral Solutions LLC
by Rob Carpen
Rob is a content writer and editor, specializing in a variety of fields. He helps B2B and B2C clients with blogs, social media, press releases and web content that create more value for their marketing campaigns. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He played Club Rugby at IUP for four years. He loves Rugby and recently attended the Rugby World Cup in Newcastle, England – New Zealand All Blacks v. Tonga Match. Rob is passionate about craft beer. He is transitioning his eight years of home brewing to earn his professional brewer certificate.