The Ins and Outs of Virtual Teams July 22, 2011Posted by escapewire in Uncategorized.
The way companies are organized has changed as technology has grown. We frequently see companies reorganizing their teams into virtual teams, also known as geographically dispersed teams (GDT). This enables people in different countries to collaborate on a single project. Like most things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to this style of team and it is not for every business. Is it right for yours?In the past, it was thought that productivity had a direct correlation with proximity. The thought was held that the more face-time a manager was able to give their team the more productive they would be. Managers are realizing that this may not be true, and that building a team out of people that work well together and have very targeted skill sets can generate a much more significant result. Another strong factor impacting productivity can be the mindset of the individuals the group consists of. Some individuals are encouraged by their personal desire to learn more so as to further their careers; this self-motivation is a trait that works well in a virtual team environment. Individuals who are motivated by social interactions or by the desire to avoid negative feedback may not be a good fit for a virtual team. For some businesses, it is practical to utilize virtual teams. Many companies, large and small, have embraced this innovative organizational technique. Obviously businesses that require people to physically interact to perform a task, such as construction, are not candidates for virtual teams. If you think implementing virtual teams as an enterprise wide strategy or smaller capacity is a good fit for your company, here are a few things to think about.
- Recruitment based on competence not proximity
- Team members are able to work during the times when they function most efficiently
- Teams consist of members who are self-motivated and self-driven
- More accommodation for team members’ personal and professional lives
- No commuting time or cost
- Reduced overhead, as 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 performance as there are less social pressures
- Less social interaction, which may be a demotivator for some people
- Loss of trust between team members if there is not assurance that everyone is pulling their own weight
- Creativity could possibly be stifled, because the physical dynamics are lost
- Team members may overwork themselves as managers can not physically see the amount of time each task takes
- Managers may lose track of the team’s progress, i.e. out of site out of mind
Virtual teams use a selection of technology to interface. Such as email, audio and video conferencing, and file sharing programs. Below is a list of a few programs that can be beneficial to virtual teams.
- Go to meetings – a relatively inexpensive method to have remote meetings
- Yammer – a private social network for companies that makes it possible for 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 would like more information on virtual teams in action, consider the articles below: