Virtual teams are far from being a workplace trend. Managing a team is a tedious task at the best of times, but in a virtual office, it’s all the more challenging. Virtual interaction is the future of organizations of all sizes. The World Bank Data shows that about 6 percent of the Hong Kong working population consists of self-employed individuals and freelancers. It’s not due to lack of permanent employment, it’s because the rest of the world is growing to prefer independent and flexible work options. So, let's take a look at some of the issues that virtual teams should overcome in order to succeed:
1. Lack of Communication:
Workplaces are prone to having communication issues – be it traditional or remote working teams. Whenever there’s a lack of communication, the employees are quick to blame the distance, which in turn creates mistrust and resistance towards remote working. Poor communication can result in:
- Increased stress levels
- Missed deadlines
- Unsatisfied customers
To avoid lack of communication in virtual teams, the leaders must ensure that remote workers have good communication skills before hiring them. Good communication skills will allow team members to put forward their views and ideas in an organized manner, and take in a large amount of information. Leaders must also establish a system where team members receive constant feedback and should communicate goals and expectations.
2. Lack of focus and productivity:
You can work in the comfort of your home and roll right out of your bed to start working. However, companies view working from home as a threat to their control over the productivity of their employees. There might be individuals who do not make the best use of their time when they are not monitored permanently.
To teach one’s team good independent skills, the leader should ensure that the team members know how to work independently. Productivity tools like timers, website blockers, and noise cancellation tools are a fantastic way to increase focus and stay productive. With just the right leadership, about 83% of the employees feel like they don’t need to be at the office to stay productive.
3. Nurturing remote team relationships:
According to recent research by Igloo, 70% of the remote workers felt left out of the workplace. Diversity in teams can contribute to growth and innovation, but certain differences, like time zone, language, or cultural differences might put forward a few challenges. Building team relationships, especially during remote work, is a cumbersome task.
A team will perform better in an honest and open workplace environment. Organizations must set up a code of communication that is based on openness, respect, and empathy. Managers should also focus on developing close relationships with their employees so that they can reach out in case of any problems.
4. Lack of leadership:
As a leader in the core communicator during remote working, an unskilled leader would lead to the downfall of the organization. While many leaders can be pronounced in face-to-face interactions but might not possess enough skills to hold virtual interactions.
Leaders should have infallible communication skills, develop virtual project management skills, and tools to make life easier for the team members – as one in every five employees are at risk of burn-out due to improper leadership employment. They should also focus on facilitating a positive work-place environment based on openness and trust.
5. Remote task management:
Planning and monitoring your team’s tasks has been all the more difficult with virtual teams when your team is spread out at different locations. Whether it’s a mixture of remote staff and in-house staff or an entire team of remote workers, managers have to ensure targets are hit and deadlines are met.
Communication becomes even more difficult without having physical presence thus, managers have to be equipped with all the required skills and tools required for large teams and complex projects. Before relinquishing the promise of virtual teams, organizations should focus on developing the best practices to achieve the greatest output from remote employees.
- Working Remotely Doesn’t Mean You’re Working Alone | Fuze
- State of the Digital Workplace| Igloo Software
- 21+ Inspiring Leadership Statistics (2020 Facts& Figures) (goremotely.net)