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?
Managing Virtual Teams: Turn Challenges into Benefits
Making an unprecedented growth spurt over the last three decades, virtual teams are the now and the future of work. 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.
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, you can overcome and turn them 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.
The challenges of managing virtual teams are not easy.
For example, bonds created by face-to-face communication can boost team performance by 67 percent. The lack of close contact is a common challenge for virtual teams.
Let’s learn more about how to deal with them.
7 Worst Virtual Team Challenges for Managers and Employees
In the worst-case scenario, some challenges of virtual teams often turn the ideal work environment into:
- A product launch made too early
- A gross unforeseen expenditure
- Lagging 3 months behind a 6-month deadline
- Poor job role clarity
- Sleepless nights
- Confused and tired team members
- Lack of focus and determination
- Skills shortage
- Half-baked products and services
If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve had your fair share of virtual team communication challenges, team building ns teamwork 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:
- What is a simple solution to the common team challenges?
- Is it possible to make the remote team dynamics work for my business?
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. The relentless work pace pushes you to stay constantly vigilant and enthusiastic. It asks you to develop a level of alertness and a go-get attitude that will become second nature.
If you are a virtual team member, it’s tough to find compelling work that challenges you to put your best effort in. As an expert, you need to give your best work on a virtual team without clear guidelines and requirements.
As a project manager, it’s challenging to scale a project executed by experts and, at the same time, make them stand out in a crowd. When one expert drops off a project and leaves others hanging in midair, you must be able to switch from one person to another and quickly build a new team.
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 virtual teams can easily turn into the worst of them unless you learn how to gauge the virtual team’s pros and cons.
Factors like language variety, different work hours, lack of task management tools, the flurry of instant messages, and team fluidity affect virtual team performance.
Even if you have all the software skills at hand on your team, the diversity of projects on the virtual team market makes it difficult to source quality experts.
But a change in perspective is not always sufficient. Welcome to 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 rely on making structures with digital task management tools.
With the right virtual team management tools, team members in flash teams 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.
In turn, flash organizations are larger 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, 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 volumes, 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.
4. Apply dynamic distributed leadership across teams.
Flash teams enable you to collect dynamic ensembles of geographically dispersed experts from a global pool.
The meaning of an expert can vary across the globe. People have a different understanding of the expert role.
We can all agree that an expert is a person who gets the job done with excellent results. However, compiling successful on-demand expert teams is the main challenge.
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.
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 typical 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 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.
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