About 40% of Microsoft’s 400,000 employees worldwide did not have a traditional office in 2007, the last year the company released this data. Recently, the tech giant announced that it was ending the benefit for many of those workers, aiming to transition them back to a traditional office environment.
“In many fields, such as software development and digital marketing, the nature of work is changing, which requires new ways of working,” said a statement from the company. “We are bringing small, self-directed agile teams in these fields together.”
I respectfully disagree – the nature of work is indeed changing, but very much in the opposite direction. A 2016 survey shows that more than half of corporate teams hail from multiple nations, up from just 41% in 2014 and 33% in 2012. In fact, up to 41% of corporate teams never meet in person.
So what drove Microsoft’s decision?
Failure to understand virtual teams
According to the Gartner Group, 50% of virtual teams fail because they do not understand how to work virtually. Simply put, when interpersonal communication occurs mostly or entirely via electronic means, the skills and strategies we use to work productively and cohesively need to evolve. All too often, they don’t.
When companies say they dislike virtual teams because “the nature of work is changing,” to me it says they never quite cracked the code of doing so effectively in the workplace. Rather than solve the problem, they disrupt their workers’ lives and routines by embarking on expensive and complicated reorganizations.
I hope they make sure that in the new arrangement, team members sit no more than 90 feet away from one another. Any further, and they begin to exhibit the tendencies and behaviors of virtual teams anyway.
The way forward for virtual team building
Simply put, there is no reason – not one – why virtual teams cannot work as effectively and productively as co-located teams. Towards that end, Virtual Team Builders is pleased to launch a new resource for companies and teams that may be struggling, or even contemplating a drastic move such as Microsoft has.
Our Lightning Pro webinars are short, targeted, and laser-focused to address one commonly experienced challenge at a time. Affordable and convenient, each 45-minute webinar delivers instantly applicable skills and knowledge that your team can put into practice immediately. Current webinars are:
- Tips, Tricks and Troubleshooting for Skype for Business
- Advanced Skype for Business
- SharePoint for Virtual Teams
- Jumpstart Your Online Training
Virtual teams became common for a reason – they are convenient, flexible and easy to implement, making life more enjoyable for employees and less costly for businesses. Don’t let the challenges of virtual teamwork slow you down. Overcome them and achieve the results you know you can. Sign up for our Lightning Pro webinars to get started today!