Steady technological change combined with an absence of a traditional office setting, is bringing new challenges to team performance and how virtual teams work together
Regardless if you are a global company or working in the confines of a single region, geographically distributed teams are the new industry norm.
In a business environment where fewer and fewer teams can co-locate or hold face-to-face meetings, companies must adapt to the onset of distributed teamwork.
Like it or not, virtual teams are a norm and use of collaborative technology is often encouraged if not required by today’s business leaders
But surrounding the use of technology, there are other factors to consider when thinking of how distributed teams can work well together.
Common barriers to the success of distributed teams include:
- Lack of methods and best practices geared to working in virtual environments
- Inadequate hardware, limited secure bandwidth, poor software interoperability
- Time differences, inadequate trust, tepid participation of team members, cultural and language challenges
- And absence of social cues typically available in more interpersonal settings
As organizations shift away from a collocated workforce, more focus is needed on the core elements of the team. Including new and improved work methods geared to virtual teams and use of collaborative technology.
Methods to improve virtual teams performance
Team leadership is a fundamental ingredient in improving performance of distributed teams. Teams require carefully organized assignments or tasks to achieve their objectives.
Effective virtual teams must possess leaders that align team members around specific project tasks, completion of important milestones and maintaining the quality of deliverables.
Accountability of team members is also an important factor in team composition followed by dependability and trust among team members.
Because these elements are more of a challenge in a virtual setting, having solid methods of engagement and practices in place, is fundamental to compensate for the lack of traditional relationships in co-located workers.
Additionally, methods centered around meeting standards, frequency of meetings, communication standards and team member alignment are all key considerations for distributed teams.
Regardless of which technology is enabled, team communication is significant to sustaining virtual team members. Team leaders and team members must be diligent to ensure communication is open, clear and concise in a virtual setting.
Data interoperability and work tracking are also ingredients in the technology space supporting distributed teams. Distributed teams are now common place but the success and satisfaction of working within them is somewhat illusive.
To combat the challenges of working virtually, team leadership and methods of doing work specifically geared to distributed teams are important to the effectively bind teams together in today’s workplace.
Leaders and team members must learn and embrace new skills and adopt differentiated processes to enable team success. Adopting these success factors will enable team members to thrive and contribute better in distributed teams.
About the Author, Fred Wellman
Fred Wellman is an Industry Consultant with 35+ years of experience in assisting Clients in deploying business strategies which maximize the effectiveness of their capital project system, close process gaps and reduce or eliminate systemic risks which attack project NPV and trigger high organizational pain. Connect with Fred via Linkedin