Building virtual teams strategies for high performance.
Virtual teams often referred to as distributed teams or remote teams, are individuals working remotely from varying locations connected and working together using technology.
Virtual teams are crucial to the new normal.
The modern workplace has changed dramatically in the past ten years due to the increased flexibility technology has provided us. Over the past two years, virtual teams and remote workers have evolved even faster.
The workplace has become more flexible and agile. A workplace is no longer where we commute to an office, and the entire team sits together. Employees can now work from home, in different locations, and even in other countries, creating a virtual workforce. It’s a pretty exciting time.
As the digital world evolves, more and more companies are choosing to go with virtual teams as it allows them to hire the best talent regardless of their location. The world is moving towards a remote workforce, and it’s here to stay.
While working in a virtual format is becoming more common, the challenges are also more complex.
With the increasing number of companies using virtual teams, leaders and managers must understand how to manage and motivate their teams effectively. This article will talk about the benefits of having a virtual team, plus how to build one that performs at its best.
Benefits of virtual teams
Here are just a few of the benefits of having virtual teams.
Virtual teams can increase productivity and decrease costs. The productivity of the team is directly related to the degree of communication and collaboration that is occurring within the team.
GitLab found that 52% of virtual employees said they are more productive, while 48% believed they work more efficiently.
More productivity means that the team can get more done in less time.
A distributed team can reduce costs and increase efficiency. The cost of a virtual team is significantly less than having a traditional office space. The cost of renting or owning traditional office space might be prohibitive to a company. Not to mention hidden costs that come along with it, such as utilities, maintenance, and more.
A virtual team can be more flexible and agile than a traditional office-based team. This is because they are not restricted to a specific time zone. Team members can work from any location and even work in different countries. This flexibility allows businesses to tap into talent located anywhere in the world. Talk about the ultimate competitive advantage!
Employees adapted & ready
All the reasons mentioned above about virtual teams also apply to employees who adapted to working remotely. Some remote workers vow never to go back to an in-person office, and others can’t wait for the day when they can return.
Many employees have found that remote work lacks many of the distractions found in a traditional office, making them more productive and efficient. Their quality of life and work-life balance has improved since they don’t have to commute to work daily, and they’ve saved money in commuting and more.
While working from home can be more convenient, there are some disadvantages of not being in person and in the same office. It’s easier to feel isolated and disconnected, and the line of personal lives can get blurred with remote employees. Humans are social, and you miss out on networking, collaboration, and socializing with colleagues.
Virtual teams are crucial to the new normal, and if you’re going to have a virtual team or hybrid team, it’s critical that every team member can manage the complexities and challenges.
How Do You Build a High-Performance Virtual Team?
Building a high-performing virtual team is a big challenge. It takes a lot of effort and planning. It requires a team leader to overcome obstacles and set up a team structure that allows everyone to perform at their best. It also requires you to take the time to understand your team members’ strengths and weaknesses and find the best ways to help them succeed when you don’t meet face to face.
There are three things to keep in mind that can make or break a virtual team.
1. The Culture of the Team
Team culture is the foundation of a successful team.
A good company culture would be ideal, but we can’t always control the company culture as a team leader, but we can our team culture.
If you want your team to succeed, you need to create a team culture conducive to teamwork.
The team culture you build is a reflection of the leader you are.
Your team members must be on the same page working towards the same vision. Everyone must be aligned with the same team goals and values. When your team members don’t share the same values and goals, the team’s culture will be different. It will be difficult for the team to work together.
Since your team members work from different locations, they need to know that you trust them. You need to demonstrate that trust by creating a culture where your team members are willing to share ideas and information. You need to make your team members feel that they can approach you with any questions or issues.
2. The Structure of the Team
Virtual teams come in all shapes and sizes. They can be temporary, permanent, or fluid; they can be project-based or full-time, and they may have a centralized or decentralized structure.
When building virtual teams, the team’s structure must be set up in a way that allows team members to collaborate effectively and be able to share their ideas, ask questions, and work together.
If the team structure is set up in a way that doesn’t allow team members to work together and communicate effectively, team performance will struggle.
To be successful, the virtual team structure must match the goals and requirements of your project. It’s also essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. The structure you choose will significantly impact productivity, communication, and team collaboration.
The good news is communication technology available to us, and the increase in virtual communication has changed to meet this challenge. Make sure that the team structure is flexible and that it allows team members to work from different locations and possibly different time zones.
You also need to have the right people in the right roles on your team. If you have the wrong people in the wrong positions, your team will not work together effectively.
This means that you may have to make hard decisions about who you bring onto your team.
When selecting your team, you want to think about: The skillset of each person on the team.
How good are they at what they do?
What are their strengths and weaknesses?
How experienced are they?
Is there someone on your team who is a good fit for you but who isn’t the best fit for the company?
This may mean that you need to make some tough choices about who joins your team and team dynamics.
3. The Leadership of the Team
If you are not a good leader, the team will not be able to work together effectively.
Leadership is a difficult skill to master. You must lead by example.
You need to make sure that you are a leader that people choose to follow. Make sure that your communication skills are solid and team members know that they can approach you with any issues or questions.
As a leader, you need to get your team to trust you and respect you, which is done through your actions and behaviors.
Your team wants a leader who can help the team to succeed.
Three virtual team building ideas to help improve virtual teamwork
Here are three virtual team-building activities that can help to improve productivity, communication, and collaboration on your successful virtual team.
1. Establish Ground Rules
One of the best ways to help virtual team members to work together effectively is to establish ground rules. Ground rules can help to improve communication and collaboration.
Some of the things that you may want to consider including in your ground rules are:
- How will communication take place? (e-mail, chat, conference call, video call)
- What is the process for submitting requests or raising issues?
- When are team meetings going to be held? What are the expectations?
- How will deadlines be managed?
- What is the process for resolving conflicts?
2. Create a Centralized Location for Team Documents and Resources
If you want your remote team members to work together effectively, you must create a centralized location and a virtual workspace to share documents and resources. This will help your virtual team work together more effectively because they won’t waste time waiting for other remote employees to come online or spend time searching for documents. They will know where to find them regardless of timezone.
A centralized file share location is ideal. Ensure that everyone has access to the central file share and create a standard naming convention to make it easy to find the latest version of a document.
3. Conduct Regular Virtual Online Team Meetings
You should hold online team meetings that are purposeful and productive. Hold regular virtual meetings that are focused on reviewing progress, discussing any issues or problems that arise, and planning work for the next week. These online team meetings should last between 30 minutes up to an hour (less is always best) and always have an agenda sent out in advance to participants. There’s nothing worse than having a regularly scheduled virtual meeting where team members call in, turn on their video, and it turns out to be a just chatting meeting and not focused on moving work forward. If there’s not a reason for having a meeting, cancel it. If you want to hold a team catch-up to build personal connections, relationship building, or a team-building event, schedule it and call it such, so people are prepared and in the right mindset.
Building a high-performance virtual team is not always easy, but it is possible. By establishing ground rules, creating a centralized location for documents and resources, and conducting regular online meetings, you can help your remote team work together more effectively. Remember that leadership is key to success, and make sure that you are a leader that people choose to follow.
Ready to be that leader? If heck yes, you’re invited to The Awesome Leader League!
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She has spent the past two decades studying leadership, business, and developing leaders at all levels at Disney University, and trained people and organizations through the Disney Institute.
Her practical approach based on deep experience and respected research is that the connection between people and profits can transform leaders and their teams to be more creative, resilient, productive, profitable—and happier.