Author Archives Michal Spiar

Why Go Virtual? Why Not?

Despite some big names in technology such as Microsoft making the decision to bring a significant chunk of their remote workforce back into the office environment, virtual teams remain a valuable, viable and high-performing option for many companies. As reported in the MIT Sloan Management Review:

Most teams are dispersed on some level. They can be spatially separated (from “across the hall” to “scattered worldwide”), temporally separated (spanning different time zones), configurationally uneven (for example, five members in one location and two in another) and culturally diverse. We found that virtual teams offer tremendous opportunities despite their greater managerial challenges. In fact, with the appropriate processes in place, dispersed teams can significantly outperform their colocated counterparts.

 

By : Michal Spiar /April 16, 2018 /Uncategorized /0 Comment Read More

The New Reality: Your Team is Probably Virtual

The New Reality: Your Team is Probably VirtualWould it shock you to know that you have a virtual team? This may seem like a ridiculous question, but after learning a bit about the evolving nature of today’s workplace, more and more managers are answering, “Yes!”

What is a virtual team?

It helps to understand just what makes a team virtual in the first place, starting with some of the following characteristics:

  • Do colleagues work more than 90 feet away from one another?
  • Does your team rely on communication technologies to accomplish specific goals?
  • Do you have frequent web or tele-conferences?
  • Does one or more colleague work remotely, with limited or even zero face time with the rest of the team?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then there is no doubt about it: you have a virtual team. This is important, because a virtual team is not the same as a face-to-face team.

Our image of a virtual team usually involves a small group of people dispersed across hundreds and hundreds of miles. While this is definitely one form of virtual team, it’s not the only model. What distinguishes a virtual team from a face-to-face one is how they communicate, which is usually a function of distance – 50 feet or more. That distance (or even located in the same office but on distance floor) acts as a psychological barrier for many people, causing them to avoid walking to a team member’s desk and rely on technology instead.

Thanks to a study by Tom Allen, we have an exact number for when that shift happens. Allen studied a team of engineers and found that if they worked in the next office over, they had a 25% chance of communicating once a week. If they were 30 feet apart or more, they had a 10% chance of communicating at least once a week. But, if they were more than 50 feet apart, the frequency of their communication dropped. Past 90 feet, it didn’t matter whether they were in the next building, or in China, they began to act like a virtual team.

Virtual teams are much more common than we think, existing in offices across the country and presenting a new set of problems that can’t be solved with face-to-face solutions. It is like trying to put a square peg in a round hole: a waste of time, money and resources.

Virtual Team Builders offers a variety of solutions to support your virtual team in achieving its goals, from comprehensive team assessments and training to one-on-one mentoring for managers. Contact us today to learn more.

By : Michal Spiar /September 12, 2017 /Blog, Building a Virtual Team, Managing Stress in a Virtual Environment, your Virtual Team /0 Comment Read More

Telecommuting Rises 115% in Past Decade

Telecommuting Rises 115% in Last Decade

If it seems that telecommuting, or virtual work, is more popular than ever, it’s not hard to see why: a new report from Global Workplace Analytics (GWA) and FlexJobs shows that it has grown by 115% in the past decade.

And it shows no signs of slowing. In fact, GWA also reports that 50% of the US workforce holds a job compatible with at least partial teleworking, and that 80 to 90% of the workforce would like to work remotely at least part-time.

Part of the reason stems from the fact that 80% of married millennials have a dual-income household that leaves little time for recreation – so any time gained by working from home is attractive. In fact, as millennials make up more of the workforce, employers are using flex work to attract top talent that might balk at the idea of having to go to an office every day of the week.

Key elements of virtual team building

As more companies embrace virtual work, however, they discover that many of the benefits outlined by GWA fail to materialize, and that their teams exhibit a number of negative characteristics outlined in a Forbes report:

GWA Benefits of Virtual Teams

  • Employers can save $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year
  • Half-time telecommuters gain 11 days back per year – time they would have spent commuting
  • Absenteeism decrease of 31% with half-time telecommuting
  • Increase in productivity and morale
  • Increase in loyalty to employer
  • Organizational agility
  • Improved work-life balance

Forbes Challenges of Virtual Teams

  • Feelings of isolation
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Low levels of trust
  • Miscommunication and cultural clashes
  • Loss of team spirit

As GWA notes, it is only “well-executed programs” that can help employers achieve the desired benefits.

Keys to managing virtual teams

The question for today’s employers is this: Are you ready to transition from a face-to-face model to a virtual one? To help answer that question, consider the following:

  1. Working virtually means more than taking a laptop home – it requires a culture change that embraces digital workflow and communications tools that maximize productivity and teamwork across distances.
  2. Well-executed virtual teams take the time to learn communications strategies and techniques that build trust and camaraderie without ever being in the same room.
  3. Effective virtual teams have well-defined processes, accountabilities and methodologies that streamline and simplify workflow.

In short, simply offering flex work may get the employees you want in the door, but without investing in the skills and processes that make virtual teams perform, those same employees may not deliver the results you expect or stick around for long.

A great way to set your virtual teams up for success start is with an assessment from Virtual Team Builders. Your business can thrive in a virtual, telecommuting world – and we can help.

By : Michal Spiar /July 10, 2017 /Blog, Building a Virtual Team, CEO concerns, Hiring Virtual Employees, Motivating Your Virtual Team /0 Comment Read More

Press Release: New Webinar Series to Enhance Performance of Virtual Teams

(Toronto – June 7, 2017) Virtual Team Builders is pleased to announce its new Lightning Pro webinars. Each Lightning Pro webinar specifically targets a specific obstacle to productivity experienced by teams where one or more members work remotely.

The Gartner Group has shown that 50% of virtual teams fail because they do not understand the challenges of working virtually. Virtual teams experience unique challenges that co-located teams do not, resulting in poor collaboration, difficulty achieving and maintaining trust, and role ambiguity – all counter-productive to business goals and success. In fact, teams begin to experience these obstacles when separated by as little as 90 feet.

Virtual Team Builders’ Lightning Pro webinars provide easily accessible, instantly applicable skills and knowledge that your team can use immediately to drive sustainable team performance and productivity. There are currently four Lightning Pro webinars:

  • Tips, Tricks & Troubleshooting for Skype for Business
    • Skype is more than a chat tool – in this session, learn how to use the most common features of Skype to promote interactivity and collaboration in your team’s Skype sessions
  • Advanced Skype for Business
    • Learn the advanced functionality of Skype to take your team’s productivity to the next level
  • SharePoint for Virtual Teams
    • Realize the full potential of SharePoint in your virtual team to slash email volume, streamline team discussions, increase collaboration, maintain file security, and organize projects from end to end
  • Jumpstart Your Online Training
    • Change the way you train – virtual training presents very different challenges than traditional classrooms, and this course will teach you high-impact online exercises that will help build engagement and sustainable learning outcomes

“These Lightning Pro webinars address a critical need for modern businesses:  providing their dispersed workforce with the skills and knowledge that virtual teams need to succeed,” says Claire Sookman, Founder and President of Virtual Team Builders. “These webinars set virtual teams up for success, driving sustainable team performance and productivity, and we look forward to supporting virtual teams in achieving their goals.”

Lighting Pro webinars are 45 minutes in duration, and cost $79.99 USD per attendee. For details visit: http://virtualteambuilders.com/lightning_pro_webinars

About Virtual Team Builders

Virtual Team Builders is a training and consulting company that caters to corporations and teams who depend on effective virtual collaboration to succeed. Our training is targeted towards the unique challenges faced by teams operating in a virtual environment; challenges that are present whether members work 90 feet apart or 3000 miles apart.

For further information, contact Claire Sookman, Founder & President

csookman@virtualteambuilders.com | 1.866.497.7749

By : Michal Spiar /June 07, 2017 /Blog, your Virtual Team /0 Comment Read More
  • ABOUT US

    Virtual Team Builders is a training and consulting company that caters to corporations and teams who depend on effective virtual collaboration to succeed. Our training is targeted towards the unique challenges faced by teams operating in a virtual environment; challenges that are present whether members work 90 feet apart or 3000 miles apart.