The Ins and Outs of Virtual Teams

Interacting with people from all around the globe is as easy as a click of a button. This considerably impacts our social lives and we are seeing more and more the result this has on business. The virtual team, or geographically dispersed team (GDT), is a relatively new organizational strategy but the quantity of businesses that have embraced this strategy has grown significantly in the past few years. You may be asking yourself if it right for your business.

The idea that the level of productivity corresponds directly to the quantity of face-time a team receives may be a misconception that is falling to the wayside. Managers are noticing that an individual’s motivation, the dynamics of the group, and the capabilities of each person can have a much more important impact. Virtual teams support more selectiveness when building the team, as location is not a factor. A manager can then find people who compliment one another and are self-motivated by the bettering of their personal careers.  Virtual teams can be a blessing to managers because of their productivity and the fact that they need less direct managing.

Virtual teams are not practical for industries and companies that require physical interaction, however for businesses thatdo not require physical proximity, employing teams that interact remotely is not only feasible but can improve their processes. If you are considering the use of virtual teams in your business here are some items to consider.

Advantages

  • Recruitment based on competence not proximity
  • Team members can work during the times when they operate most efficiently
  • Teams consist of members that are self-motivated and self-driven
  • More accommodation for team members’ personal and professional lives
  • No commuting time or cost
  • Reduced overhead, because there is no physical location
  • IT expenses are lowered as most teams use web-based tools for collaboration
  • Managers can better assess the team’s overall performance because there are less social pressures

Disadvantages

  • Less social interaction, which can be a demotivator for some people
  • Loss of trust among team members if there is not assurance that everyone is pulling their own weight
  • Creativity might be stifled, because the physical dynamics are lost
  • Team members may overwork themselves as managers can not physically see the length of time each task takes
  • Managers may lose track of the team’s progress, i.e. out of site out of mind

Online technology is the primary way that virtual teams interface with each other, including email, audio conferencing, and file sharing programs. Here is a list of a few websites and products that assist teams that interact virtually.

  • Go to meetings – an economical method to have remote meetings
  • Yammer – a private social network for companies that enables quick communication and interaction
  • Drop Box – a free way to share files
  • Second Life – allows for interactive meetings with the use of avatars

If you want more information on virtual teams in action, look at the articles below: 
http://www.theanywhereoffice.com/mobile-work/telework-viritual-teams-midmarket-companies.htm
http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/19/virtual-teams-meetings-leadership-managing-cooperation.html
http://www.openforum.com/articles/7-effective-tools-for-managing-a-virtual-team

1 thought on “The Ins and Outs of Virtual Teams”

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