Three Tips to Create Effective Virtual Teams

 -  4/13/12

Virtual teams are on the rise and can be more productive than in-person teams, but it isn’t enough to just equip employees with the technology. Make sure you take these factors into account first.

In today’s virtual environment, airplanes, hotel rooms, coffee shops and practically anywhere along the way can instantly transform into a mobile office — making us more connected, more engaged and better able to collaborate and execute on the fly.

Virtual teams are on the rise, and in some cases can be even more productive than in-person teams, according to research by the American Productivity & Quality Center, a professional consulting organization. As a result, increasing numbers of companies are either migrating to these new types of teams, or creating a hybrid workforce augmenting on-site teams with virtual workers.

Some are tapping into familiar technology such as video conferencing and virtual document sharing, while others are leveraging more complex communication systems, such as online discussion groups and social media. But while technology plays a huge part in closing the distance between virtual teams, these tools alone are not enough to achieve collaboration.

While there are advantages to having virtual teams, talent managers must be aware of certain pitfalls when building and managing virtual teams. Here are the top three, along with ways to avoid them.

Don’t employ a one-size-fits-all approach. Hiring strategies for virtual team members are vastly different than for in-office positions. A virtual workplace requires far more self-reliance and self-motivation than needed for in-office employees. That’s why it’s important to identify the right individuals who demonstrate necessary skills — such as the ability to think independently, make clear decisions and take decisive action when called for, often without direction from higher-ups.

But a talent manager’s work isn’t done once the hire is made. Even if the employee possesses all the skills needed to be successful, additional training may be required to ensure communication across team members is happening, which can vary depending on the individual and the project.

Don’t assume collaboration will happen automatically. More than 60 percent of respondents in a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey on virtual teams reported that no specific training for online collaboration was provided — undoubtedly a hamper on team productivity.

Article Keywords:   technology   collaboration   virtual   team building  


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