Virtual World

In today’s globalised and current business environment, virtual teams are a common organisational structure.  The days when all team members were physically located in the same office and spent their working days together will be history now. However, it is not that easy and Virtual teams have its own issues.

FACTORS AT PLAY

Virtual teams can be very complex, considering geographies, language, time zones, culture, working styles are few issues.  All of these attributes can make virtual teams more complex.  Organisations can leverage these attributes to make effective virtual teams.

Characteristics of effective virtual teams have been identified in an article published by the Harvard Business Review.  Good virtual teams provide a platform for employees more flexibility; companies can cut down on costs for everything from travel to salaries.

“Good virtual teams must also recognise that remote communication and unclear management are common reasons why virtual teams can fail”

MAKING VIRTUAL TEAMS WORK

Following are some important points for making virtual teams.

1. THE RIGHT TEAM

Good virtual teams must start with correct people.  People who generally have good communication skills, emotional intelligence, be self-starters who work well independently and have good cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity.

Good virtual teams are often limited in size to a manageable level.  Small teams of less than ten people are considered to be ideal.  This maximises the chances of effective and inclusive communication within the team. If we increase the size the number of communication channels increased which can create chaos.

Good virtual teams also define clear roles within the team. 

2. THE RIGHT LEADERSHIP

Good virtual team leadership means attracting leaders with certain skills.  These skills may not always be the same skills valued in a traditional leadership role for a locally located team.

Good virtual team leaders recognise the importance of trust as a key characteristic to the team’s success.  Trust is fostered by an attitude of respect and empathy.

Building relationship among virtual team members is key to success.  It is very difficult in virtual team. We can leverage technology to a certain extent to work on this.

Trust and relationship building are the foundations for giving team members permission to speak openly and frankly. 

3. THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY

Good virtual teams understand the effective use of technology.  Conference calls, video conferencing and other tools that give the team a platform for open communication enhance team productivity. However, it is not always necessary to use video conferencing all the time. Some time messaging or a teleconferencing can also be useful. It’s also important to remember that simple communication tools are also very effective. 

There are few challenges which are given in below picture

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