Last Updated on November 3, 2021
Managing an effective virtual team comes with unique challenges.
In this post, we address the biggest hurdles when working with a virtual team.
We also discuss the top tools and strategies to clear those hurdles.
Let’’s get started.
What is a Virtual Team?
A virtual team is a group of employees who work from remote locations (even remote sales teams) and connect with each other over the Internet. Thanks to advances in technology, almost any task that can be done in person can also be done remotely. From marketing and accounting to product development, a distributed team can make use of special virtual collaboration tools to accomplish the job.
However, there are limitations to virtual work.
Physical tasks still require an in-office team. But if you find that most of your work can be accomplished with a computer and a telephone, you’’re a good candidate for the virtual team model.
What are the Benefits of Working with a Virtual Team?
There are plenty of benefits to working with a distributed team.
- No Location Restrictions on Talent
When proximity to your office isn’t a deciding factor, you can hire based on talent alone. This means that you can hire the best people across the globe.
- Increased Productivity
Remote workers tend to be more productive because they’re not distracted by the office happenings. Without distractions, they can burrow down and do what it takes to complete a task.
- Reduced Cost
As a business, you’ll save money when your team works remotely. You’ll save on office lease, office maintenance, equipment, supplies, and utilities.
What are the Top Challenges of Managing a Virtual Team?
However, working with a distributed team poses quite a few challenges.
While this list is long, don’t let it discourage you.
The reality is that all of these challenges can be overcome with smart planning and readily available tools.
All kinds of teams, including ours, have met these challenges head-on with great results.
Poor communication is one of the top challenges that you’ll face with a virtual team. Team members who aren’t working in the same place or the same time zones may find it difficult to connect with each other. This means that information can slip through the cracks and halt productivity.
Lack of Social Connection
One of the benefits of working in an office is seeing and interacting with other people. But when you work alone, you can feel isolated.
Unable to Get on the Same Page
Because you’re part of a team, you need to work toward shared goals. However, not being in the same place makes it more difficult to find a working rhythm with your team.
Lack of Clear Goals
Due to communication issues, your team may not have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them.
Lack of Resources
Your team must have access to the resources they need to accomplish their goals. In a traditional office environment, it’s a lot easier to find these resources than it is remotely. It’s up to you, as the manager, to ensure that your virtual team has tools to do their tasks and also knows exactly where to look for the resources they may need.
Poor Project Management
It’s difficult to coordinate members who are checking in from multiple locations and at different times. This makes it difficult to manage a project on time, especially if you’re waiting for a team member to respond to an email that you sent two days ago.
Perceived Lack of Support
Sometimes, team members can feel like they don’t have any support from their leaders. This happens because they’re in isolation and don’t get immediate feedback (both positive and critical) like they would in a traditional office setup.
Low Team Morale
When a team member doesn’t feel supported, they’ll also start to detach from the team. They may do their job, but not enthusiastically. This can lead to employee churn.
Because you’re not breathing down their neck (not that you would ever do that), your team members may be more prone to relax on the job and not get things done as quickly as they would in person.
Not a Good Fit for Every Personality Type
Some personalities will thrive in a remote work environment, but others will wilt. A remote team environment will not work unless your team members are self-motivated, disciplined, and able to work well on their own.
When working remotely, you’ll inevitably encounter incompatible devices.
Unless you supply the equipment, your team members will work with different tools, including desktops, laptops, and smartphones. This may make it difficult to use the same software.
Internet availability, or the lack thereof, is another potential problem for remote teams. However, Internet access is crucial to virtual collaboration.
What is Virtual Collaboration?
Virtual collaboration is the process of using digital communication tools to work together on tasks, such as ideation, creation, and problem-solving.
Why is Virtual Collaboration Important?
When you work with a remote team, communication is the key to your success. Virtual collaboration tools allow you to work with a distributed team as if you’re working in the same office, shoulder to shoulder.
4 Ways You Improve Virtual Collaboration?
As you can see from the above challenges, virtual collaboration faces several challenges, but here are a few ideas for overcome those challenges:
1. Make Communication a Top Priority
Communication matters in every workplace, but it’s essential when you’re working with a virtual team. Set communication guidelines for your team to follow when connecting with each other, such as when you expect to receive a response and on what tool (i.e., email, instant message, etc.).
2. Hold Meeting Times Regularly
To collaborate virtually, you need to meet.
Meetings help your team stay on track as a team. It also provides your team members with the space to ask for help, get clarity, and find directions. In aAdditionally, use virtual meetings to check in personally with your team members and give them that social connection that may be lacking when working remotely.
To further enhance discussion and emulate an in-person dynamic, use video conferencing tools for your meetings.
3. Set a Schedule
Every remote team should have office hours. This sets expectations for your team so that they know when to be “at work” and available for phone calls, meetings, and requests. This also supports a health work/ life balance for both you and your team.
4. Use the Right Tools
When working with a virtual team, you need tools to communicate with each other and stay on track. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools on the market to assist virtual teams.
What Aare the Top Virtual Collaboration Tools?
To improve collaboration with your virtual team, you need tools. Here are the top tools to consider:
In addition to email, you need a tool that allows for instant communication between your team members. This enables project check- ins and water cooler chat. Instant messaging tools also allow you to easily search through messages.
Popular Instant Messaging Tools Include:
Video conferencing tools enable you to have face-to-face communication. They also allow users to share their desktop screens with others, which enables virtual collaboration.
Popular Video Conferencing Tools Include:
With project management tools, you can fully manage a project, from assigning tasks to, creating deadlines, setting reminders, and messaging team members. Use project management tools to track your progress, too.
Popular Project Management Tools Include:
Use cloud storage to save and retrieve documents remotely “in the cloud.” When documents are in the cloud, and not saved locally on a hard drive, team members are able to easily access what they need without delay.
Popular Cloud Storage Tools Include:
Use productivity management tools to monitor your team. Ensure that they’re staying on task and being productive during the work day.
Popular Productivity Management Tools Include:
Privacy and Security
Use privacy tools to ensure that your data is kept safe. This is especially important when your team is working with devices that may not be updated with the latest protocols.
Popular Privacy and Security Tools Include:
Over to you
While there are a lot of benefits to hiring and working with a remote team, you must be prepared to tackle the various challenges that come with a distributed workplace model. Use the above tips and tools to ensure success with your virtual team.