Working Effectively in a Virtual Team

Global Virtual Teams - Make Distance and Diversity Advantages to your Business

In the recent years, Virtual teams have made their presence felt throughout the business world and have cemented their place in the ever so challenging field that international companies are a part of. Today it is common for companies to have teams dispersed across various countries, cultures and time zones. Colleagues are expected to work together while working apart. At Crossroads Global, we help you learn the skills and tools required to manage geographically dispersed and culturally diverse teams to harness the groundbreaking potential that these teams possess.

Questions arise such as: How do we manage global teams? How do we deal with the diversity in hand? How can we build trust within Virtual teams? How can we train our members to realise and bring in to effect the ability, strength and the ingenuity of Global Virtual Team?

The answer is simple: Let the experts with vast experience at Crossroads Global show you how to make the most out of your Virtual teams.

Global Virtual Teams. Why?
The benefits of global virtual teams far outweigh the challenges. To mention a few:

  • Cost effectiveness: Global virtual teams cost much less than face-to-face meetings due to various factors such as travelling and other various facilities that face-to-face meetings require. Computer mediated Communication (CMC) has helped save major transnational companies’ up to $50 million/£30 million (Bergiel et al., 2008).
  • Lower employee costs: You can access cities or countries with the same level of talent but with lower living costs. An employee in New York or London is bound to demand far more than someone in South Carolina, let alone in India or in the Philippines.
  • Easy Frequent Meetings: They can also meet more frequently than traditional teams which is an added advantage when dealing with short deadlines. Employees tend to work more in order to fulfill their own responsibilities.
  • Variation in Ideas: Virtual teams of employees from diverse backgrounds and cultures tend to be more creative, create more and are more effective than teams that are more identical culturally. Global teams have the greatest value when members work to solve company-wide issues. This helps in elimination of similar-minded approach which is often the case when a certain department/ team deal with various situations.
Some of the key benefits of our training sessions and on-going support include:

  • Enhanced communicating capability when working in virtual space.
  • Strategies on integration of virtual and non-virtual activities.
  • Techniques on using diversity to its fullest to find different approaches to various areas of concern.
  • Better understanding of technology in communicating with geographically dispersed members.
  • Cooperate effectively across time and distance.
  • Improved problem solving with reduced time conflict.
Challenges faced by a Global Virtual Team:
A recent report by conducted by RW3, LLC, estimated that a staggering 46% of Virtual team members had met their fellow members and 30% of Virtual team members met each other only once in an year. The report, The Challenges of Working in Virtual Teams, was based on a survey of nearly 30,000 employees from multinational companies. The survey also found that:

  • The top challenge for virtual team members was the inability to read nonverbal cues (94%).
  • Most virtual team members (90%) said they don’t have enough time during virtual meetings to build relationships.
  • There is an absence of collegiality among virtual team members (85%).
  • It is difficult to establish rapport and trust in virtual teams (81%).
  • Managing conflict is more challenging on virtual teams than on conventional teams (73%).
  • Decision making is more difficult on virtual teams than on conventional teams (69%).
  • It is more challenging to express opinions on virtual teams than on conventional teams (64%) (Hastings, 2010).
More on Global Virtual Teams
  • Trust:  Trust is essential for any team to be successful. Trust is critical for clear communication between members. It also plays a crucial role in keeping the morale of a team high. Trust between team members requires a certain amount of attention. If possible, face-to-face meetings should be held every 3 months to strengthen relations.
  • Role definition in a Team: Global Virtual Teams need to understand the purpose, direction, roles of team members and the management. This can be achieved by learning to channel the teams’ effort in the same direction to attain better results. This not only holds true for teams in the same location and culture but even more so in Global VT’s.
  • Communication woes: One of the most widely accepted problems in leading an efficient Virtual team is the continuous misperception of the same language in different regions of the world. Though, all the team members might speak the English language, it is necessary that there is a full clarity of the content being spoken. Failure to do this often is the reason for downfall of a Global Virtual Team.
  • Cultural differences: Team members with different cultures have different ways of communicating. While in the UK, US, Canada rules are of utmost importance, in countries such as India, China they are merely treated as guidelines. Such stark differences often lead to conflict within a team and have to be managed carefully to avoid loss to the team.
  • Time Zones: Multiple time zones can be a boon if used to one’s advantage. A simple procedure such as “Follow the Sun” can yield fruitful results by saving time. At the same time without proper management it can be quite an issue. For example, if you are working with a member in another time zone and leave a crucial segment incomplete needed by others at the end of your workday, it might lead to a loss of a whole work day for the other.
  • Effective Work Distribution: Improper distribution of work within a team is also a potential cause of conflict. It creates unnecessary tension within the team and a sense of injustice towards oneself develops. Peter Drucker described the job of a manager as one who creates productive work and assigns the most effective people to perform it. But this is hard to manage in the case of Virtual Teams where teams are geographically dispersed.

At Crossroads Global we tackle these numerous challenges with our “Working effectively in Virtual Teams” programme which is highly successful and recommended by various international organizations which themselves have been participants of the programme. It successfully blends practical tools, tips and techniques with challenging exercises and ideas for International Virtual Teams to work more effectively and successfully.
We provide a free consultation meeting to discuss the unique needs of our client and to design training solutions that are specific to our clients’ needs.