Virtual work teams face bigger challenges as compared to classic teams in areas such as communication, motivation and warmth of the relations. Let’s analyze the main advantages of virtual teams, challenges they face and how to beat the difficulties.
Challenges of Virtual Work Teams:
Although the advantages and benefits of distributed teams are many, virtual teams face some challenges that slow down back the work process. The most common challenges are:
- Physical distance: As there is no face to face contact, cold relations are a risk for the work environment, so it is advisable to pay attention to the team and implement strategies that help to humanize the virtual media.
Time zone differences: You obviously cannot change these, so we advise you to rely on collaboration tools that can help you minimize the number of virtual meetings and actual time overlap between team members. Do you need help choosing the right collaboration tools for your team? Schedule a free consultation.
- Communication: When you are working or managing a virtual team you will need to make sure that you are using the right communication channels at the right time, with the right message. Miscommunication or loss of information is the most common problem in the virtual world, your management skills must be in check and ready for this challenge.
- Routine: Just like any other work, one of the main enemies of motivation is routine, and this poses a major risk especially in the virtual medium. Putting in long hours in front of a computer can lead to exhaustion, stress and a bunch of unmotivated employees. The team needs to have a constant source of positive motivation to keep this aspect from affecting its work.
Personal life and work life imbalance: As it involves work being done in the same physical space as where most people typically go about their personal lives, it is inevitable that work will be invasive in your personal life or vice versa. This means that maintaining harmony between work life and personal life is crucial to the success of virtual work.
Diverse multicultural teams: Virtual teams, more often than not, are made up of individual with different cultures, each of which has their own customs, values and work habits. This becomes a challenge as each person automatically follows their own way of working and interacting with others. Managers will need to learn to find common grounds between different team members.
Megan West, Digital Communications Manager. Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI)
Communication is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of business, especially with virtual employees and members spread across all of Indiana. Managing Virtual Teams (MVT) provided workable solutions that could be implemented right away for long term success. I went into the course hoping to grab a few tips and tricks but instead experienced a hands-on workshop that was tailored to my organization's needs. Not only was the course helpful, it was inspiring and gave me a new vision for my organization's communication future.
Do you want to take the same course as Megan? Click here and learn How to Promote Internal Communications in a Virtual Office
Benefits of Virtual Work Teams:
Virtual teams enable better working conditions in terms of:
Flexible time: flexibility and autonomy applied to time management leaves everybody in charge of their own time, and lets them choose their work schedules.
- Freedom to travel: With no need of a visa or transportation to a physical location, people can access their virtual office from basically anywhere in the world, giving them the freedom to choose their physical work space. Today we have many digital nomads who claim to be more productive in a virtual work setting as compared to being in an office. We know from experience that that is a fact!
- Spend less money: By not having a physical location, the company and the team alike save money which would have been spent on facilities and on transport to and from the workplace.
- More comfort: The privilege of working from home or wherever a person chooses affords them greater comfort, from small aspects like the manner of dressing, all the way up to the person's selection of a preferred workspace and schedule.
- Better work-life balance: Although many tasks require doing while another non-virtual business is open, and thus with a fixed, set work schedule, there are others that grant flexibility. Virtual work offers people the flexibility they need to strike a good balance between their work lives and personal lives.
Digital work is greener:
- Transportation: No need for public or private transportation to work. The worker is free to choose the most comfortable and appropriate place to work.
- Paper: There are no documents to print. All communications take place online.