Virtual work can help you build the dream team. Each day, virtual teams cross boundaries that were only recently beyond the bounds of possibility. Dispersed work experts outshine their local counterparts. Remote work is the new standard. So, how do you solve virtual team challenges when they are new to you?

virtual team challenges: navigating the complex waters of remote work


Managing Virtual Teams: Challenges and Benefits

If you’ve ever sent an email, you’ve been a member of a virtual team, at least for a short period of time. But if you are the average global telecommuter, you have probably worked away from a conventional office at least once this last week.

Making an unprecedented growth spurt over the last three decades, virtual teams are the now and the future of work. Research indicates that despite the cross-cultural differences that can create poor communication and lack of trust in virtual teams, with the right virtual team management tools,  they can be overcome and turned into opportunities.

Working remotely, workers can cherry-pick inspiring projects, build connections hundreds of miles long, and achieve the ideal work-life balance.

Managers have a smorgasbord of international talent to choose from.

Under ideal circumstances, projects flow with ease. They get done in a jiffy and within budget. At the project’s end, everyone is happy with how have things turned out.

7 Worst Virtual Team Challenges for Managers and Employees

In the worst-case scenario, virtual team challenges often turn this ideal picture into:

  • A product launch made too early
  • A gross unforeseen expenditure
  • Lagging 3 months behind a 6-month deadline
  • Poor job role clarity and sleepless nights with confused and tired team members
  • Lack of focus and determination.
  • Skills diminishing.
  • Half-baked products and services

Bonds created by face-to-face communication can boost team performance by 67 percent. The lack of close contact is a typical problem for virtual teams.

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve had your fair share of virtual team communication challenges and virtual team management issues. Who hasn’t? In a dream world, things run smoothly. You get only the best of new technologies, transformed organizations, and the changing face of the job market. However, you’ve probably recognized yourself in at least one of the above scenarios and now you have a couple of questions about the possible solutions:

The short answer is yes and although this “yes” sometimes comes with a sting in the tail, there is a way out.

How to Source Experts from a Global Crowd

Let’s face it – the dynamic nature of digital transformation poses daily challenges.

Once you thought you solved one of your team’s crucial virtual team weaknesses, a new one crops up. Such a relentless pace pushes you to stay constantly vigilant and enthusiastic. You need to develop a level of alertness and a go-getting attitude that will become your second nature.

If you are a virtual team member, it’s tough to find compelling work that challenges you to invest your best. As an expert, you are asked to give your best work on a virtual team in isolation.

For project managers, it’s challenging to scale a project that gets done by experts that get stimulating work and, at the same time, sets them apart from the crowd.

You must be able to swiftly jump from one person to another and build a new unit or team as one expert drops off a project and leaves others hanging in midair.

How can you do this?

1. Change your perspective.

Most virtual team challenges can be surpassed by a shift in perspective.

What you see as a challenge can become an opportunity: it’s taking the “glass-half-full” approach.

Let’s take the definition of virtual teams as an example:

“A virtual team can be defined as a group of individuals who work across time, space, and organizational boundaries, and interact primarily through electronic communications.”

The best of the virtual teams can easily turn into the worst of virtual teams unless you learn how to gauge the virtual team’s pros and cons.

Factors like language variety, poor collaboration tools, and team fluidity play a role in pulling out virtual team weaknesses. This has been the exact challenge of the Bright Solutions team. Lack of a rapidly deployable and scalable team structure was the biggest frustration for our CEO Manuel Pistner, too.

“Even if you have all the software skills at hand on your team, the abundant diversity of projects on the virtual team market makes it difficult to source out quality experts.” – Manuel says.

But, a change in perspective is not always sufficient. Luckily, science can help. In the last couple of years, we have seen researchers amassing just enough research to kick many virtual team challenges to the curb. We solved many of them with Flash Hub.

We welcomed flash teams as the new building blocks of geographically dispersed work.

2. Make scalable virtual team management tools.

Time, space, and lack of boundaries transform into opportunities once you find a way to implement a proper team structure.

In the digital world,  we have to rely on setting structure with electronic tools.

What is so special about flash teams? How the flash team concept injected enough zeal into our own dream team to nudge it into finding a solution to common virtual work problems?

With the right virtual team management tools, team members can work independently and interdependently as they chew upon tiny or large project bites of their choice.

3. Use computational crowdsourcing.

Flash teams are created with computational crowdsourcing.

Flash organizations are organizations generated by sourcing flash teams from the crowd.

This means that we finally have adequate tools to compose flexible and dynamic on-demand expert teams. Instead of hand-picking experts, we let algorithms do the work.

Like it or not, you have to give the thumbs up to computers! They have a remarkable ability to handle large data volume, much faster than humans.

Flash teams and flash organizations can turn unstructured virtual teams with a lack of focus into functional groups of dedicated professionals. Throw several flash teams into the mix and you come up with an equally effective flash organization.

4. Apply dynamic distributed leadership across teams.

Flash teams enable gathering dynamical ensembles of geographically dispersed experts from the crowd.

Expert levels vary across the globe. People have a different understanding of short-term and long-term planning.

However, we can all agree that an expert is a person who gets the job done with excellent results. We can also agree that it’s difficult to rapidly compile successful on-demand expert teams.

The successful teamwork recipe usually requires adding up new knowledge or replacing one expert with another. Let’s put virtual team challenges into this context.

The flash team methodology can help you solve the “role confinement” challenge by building structural blocks. In these blocks, team members use the computational structure to flow between fluid project roles.

5. Develop common goals as team binding blocks.

We solve the challenge of expert isolation with an example of a distributed leadership model.

Expert isolation generally results in a lack of a clear understanding of the shared goal and each person’s responsibility within a complex task.

In flash teams, you assign leaders by task-specific blocks. The blocks are dynamic to let you stretch and grow virtual teams as needed.

For example, an Android developer who used to be a team member for an advanced gaming app can switch to a project lead once he jumps on board for simpler similar applications. Variations in block roles are endless.

6. Link task completion flexibly.

Another benefit of flash teams is the lack of rigid structure characteristic for conventional organizations.

Project management methodologies, even those with the agile tag lack the ability to expand and scale on demand.

In a flash organization, you don’t need to rely on someone from the upper echelon to complete a task so that you can begin with the one at hand.

Flash teams see the vertical, as well as the horizontal task direction as necessary only until they serve a greater purpose.

On-demand expertise is almost impossible to create in traditional work environments.

Flash organizations dilute and build boundaries between virtual teams created by time, space, hierarchies, and management structure. Flash organizations are the common denominator for solving most virtual team challenges.

We can help you create a new vision for the future of virtual work.

Discover a fresh way to tackle common virtual team challenges.

Download the virtual team training for free.
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