What is a virtual team?
A virtual team consists of a group of people who interact with each other through electronic communication. They can be in the same place, but most often the members of the team are in different locations. They can work from different geographical regions. So people work together without physically sitting together in, for example, an office. This is possible through the use of online tools. For this, various project management tools make collaboration easier.
Therefore, good communication and trust are very important to build a successful virtual team. Due to the local distance, the group must have trust in other team members to avoid misunderstandings.
Because not getting to know each other in person is a hurdle for some, there are techniques and tools in project management that help with communication and make it easier.
Why virtual teams make sense
There are many reasons why virtual teams often make sense. One of them is that the global economy continues to grow. That’s why many companies have offices in many different locations.
Another reason is the atmosphere created by virtual teams. Often, virtual teams are more engaged than those who just work in the same place.
Financial aspect in virtual teams
In addition, the financial aspect also plays a role in why it is worthwhile to build a virtual team.
Virtual teams can work and be productive from anywhere. No matter what external influences might make work difficult, it is not a problem for virtual teams.
How can virtual teams overcome the lack of nonverbal cues in team communication?
First of all: what is nonverbal communication? This type of communication is possible through looks, facial expressions, gestures, our appearances such as clothing, hair, make-up, or our posture. In order for these to reach the other person, he must receive and process the signals through his senses. As with verbal communication, there is also a sender (who sends the message) and a receiver who decodes the message. This can lead to many misunderstandings. For more on verbal and nonverbal communication, see our blog post Effective verbal and nonverbal communication.
Types of a virtual team
There are different types of virtual teams. These depend on the goals, objectives, and roles of the members of the team.
These teams are members who share their expertise on a particular topic. They are brought in when needed and can be removed when they have completed the things needed.
This is about bringing together different experts to develop a new product, for example. For this purpose, teams from different countries can be brought together to complete a specific task.
In this type, each member of the team works at his own time, independently from the other team members. However, the work of one builds on that of the other. So, for example, one team finishes a shift, the other can start and continue work at a different time zone.
These teams work in different regions and come together to discuss strategies, which each then executes in their region.
Advantages of a virtual team
As mentioned above, virtual teams bring many benefits:
- Fewer office costs
By working from home, there are no costs for office space or the like
The team has more flexibility and can organize its work more freely
- More productivity
By eliminating commuting and travel, time can be used more productively.
- Better employees
By being able to hire from anywhere in the world, the company has more options when recruiting.
Disadvantages of a virtual team
However, there are also some disadvantages:
- Technical problems
For virtual teams, the Internet and computers are indispensable. Therefore, technical problems can cause difficulties that delay or prevent work.
When communicating, great care must be taken on how to communicate optimally so that trust and the exchange of knowledge and information do not falter.
Because the team does not meet in person, it is not possible to build a bond as it is usually known. This can lead to misunderstandings or less effective collaboration.
5 tips for building a virtual team
Here we would like to give 5 tips on how to build a culture in a virtual team. So that your team with get the same feeling as in a non-virtual team.
Because first impressions count, the first contact is also crucial in a virtual team. If you make onboarding as pleasant as possible for the employee, the team member is more likely to be satisfied and stay with the team longer. Onboarding can introduce the new employee to the tasks and company culture.
Either the team leader can arrange the onboarding so that the employee spends the first week in the office and has the opportunity to introduce themselves to everyone working on-site, or you can introduce the employee to the team in another way, such as a video meeting.
2. mediation of the work culture
After onboarding, however, the teaching of values doesn’t end there. If the core values can be communicated, the next step is to create a pleasant virtual work environment. To do this, a strategic system is advisable. Without a strategy, it is difficult to keep reinforcing the company’s core values and convincing employees.
Employees should have an understanding of the company’s values even with a virtual team. As the team leader, you should ensure that the team lives by them. This can also become a challenge with large teams. To help employees understand the values, the values should be turned into active goals.
3. give employees in a virtual team a team feeling
The most important thing is that the team also feels like a team. This can sometimes be more difficult in virtual teams, as people tend not to meet in person. But they should create this feeling so that the team feels like one. You can make that happen by setting common goals. By creating common goals, the team feels more like they belong together. It is also important to be transparent and clearly define the roles in the team. Being transparent about employee contributions and progress also helps.
4. plan ahead in a virtual team
Make sure the team communicates with each other in a considerate manner and also emphasize the importance. It’s best to always think a few steps ahead. With a virtual team, it’s harder to address last-minute changes, for example, because the person may not be available at the time because he or she is in a different time zone. Therefore, you should plan to avoid such cases.
5. also meet in person sometimes
Finally, another tip is to meet in person once in a while. Face-to-face interaction further strengthens the collaboration. Depending on the company, this can be implemented differently, whether it’s for the annual celebration or a monthly coffee drink, it’s up to everyone.
With a few simple tips, a virtual team is easy to build and brings many benefits that are sure to be worthwhile for their company. With good communication and communication of the company values, this should not be a problem.