Working remotely is a way of life for many people across the world. Many highly effective teams consist of people who work thousands of miles from one another. Virtual teams have many benefits. Employers are able to access the skills and expertise of people from around the world without the costs of office space for the entire team. Employees can save time and money by not traveling to work, which can lead to improved work-life balance. However, virtual teams pose different challenges than traditional teams, and require different management and leadership styles. Let’s explore five tips for working in a virtual team.
Avoid Information Hoarding
One important leadership quality for a virtual team manager is to be an information hub. A good leader of a virtual team makes sure that information flows freely and communication is encouraged among the team members. One great way to do this is to use a shared file service where important information can be stored in a central location for all to view. It is important for the virtual team members to know where they can go to easily find information.1 When information does not flow freely, you run the risk of only part of the team being in the know. Known as information hoarding in its worst form, it can leave virtual team members feeling disconnected or left out. For a virtual team to be successful, information must be freely shared and easily accessible to all members.
Choose the Right Members
Working in a virtual team is not for everyone. It is critical to put together a team with the right members. Members of a virtual team should have good communication skills, be self-starters, work well independently, and have good cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity. It is also good to keep in mind the size of the virtual team. Smaller teams tend to work better virtually than larger teams. A small team makes for more effective and inclusive communication for everyone.2
Use Communication Technologies
Developments in collaborative technologies are making communication easier for virtual teams. Applications that allow you to communicate through text, screen sharing, or video conferencing will all help your team collaborate and communicate more easily. But be cautious of blindly adopting the newest technology. If your virtual team struggles to use an application, it will be less effective. Instead, focus on technologies that include the necessary tools you are looking for and have a proven record of reliability. With the right technology in place, vital communication within your virtual team will be easier and more consistent.3
Meet in Person
Meeting in person can have many benefits for a virtual team. Being able to put a face to that voice on the phone (or text on a screen) can strengthen the bond among team members, making it easier to work together in the future. When virtual teams connect in person, it can also reinforce the importance of each person’s role within the team. Tasks affect more than just a faceless name at the other end of an e-mail. Now they have implications that affect someone you know and share a bond with. Because of this, productivity within virtual team may actually increase after an in-person meeting.4
Establish Core Hours
When working in a virtual team, it is important to establish core hours, especially when team members are spread across different time zones. With core hours in place, everyone will know when their team members are reachable.5 In addition to core hours, a master calendar that includes office closures and planned time out of the office can be useful in keeping all virtual team members on the same page.
Virtual teams are just one example of the ways the traditional workplace is changing. Earning a bachelor’s in business administration is a great way to learn how technology and innovation―such as remote work―are helping organizations develop a competitive advantage. An online business degree can be a great way to maximize your career potential while providing enough flexibility to balance work, school, and personal commitments. If you are thinking about going on to earn a master’s degree in business after your bachelor’s degree, universities like Walden offer an accelerated program that can help you save time and money by allowing you to earn credit toward your MBA during your BS in Business Administration program.
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As the traditional workplace changes and more teams become virtual, businesses must adapt to remain effective. This will require virtual teams to be led by people with leadership qualities tailored to the unique environment. A business administration degree can be a great way to learn the skills and gain the experience necessary to help a virtual team be successful.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online BS in Business Administration degree program. Maximize your career potential with enough flexibility to maintain work, school, and personal commitments.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.