Organizations in the public and private sector are turning to virtual teams to work more efficiently, boost productivity, and cut costs – and it’s easy to see why. Shifting to virtual teams can result in impressive cost savings. A 10-month study conducted by Stanford University found that organizations can save as much as $2,000 per employee per year by working from home. The primary financial benefits for employers come from increased productivity, reduced real estate costs and lower absenteeism and turnover.
Further, remote employees were often better rested and happier, and worked longer hours than their in-office counterparts.
Challenges of Managing Virtual Teams
Yet, directs costs are probably least compelling as an argument as they mainly relate to dead travel time and transport costs. Working effectively in the virtual environment is all about avoiding the failure costs, inefficiencies of over-collaboration, and impacts of unproductive conflict. These hidden costs can be exorbitant if not managed well.
As many as 82% of organizations transitioning to a virtual work model without properly training their managers and employees fail to meet their objectives. Specifically:
- 42% of virtual team members feel frustrated and overwhelmed by virtual collaboration and communication technologies
- 34% of virtual teams believe remote team members don’t do their share of the work, leading to conflict
- 85% of employees report working in a virtual environment at least some of the time, yet only 22% have received training in how to do so effectively
This leads to several negative consequences that undermine team productivity and cohesion, including:
- Feelings of isolation
- Frequent miscommunication
- Inefficient, unproductive team meetings
- Poor communication between employees and managers
Virtual teams experiencing these issues often underperform, with the cost of low productivity exceeding the savings of having moved to a virtual model. And yet, the potential benefits of working virtually are impossible to ignore. The challenge lies in learning a new set of skills that are tailored for the virtual environment, where conventional cues such as eye contact, body language and the simple ability to have a face-to-face conversation no longer apply.
So how do we build virtual teams that rise to these challenges, resulting in the productivity gains and cost savings we know they can achieve?
Building a Better Virtual Team
In this blog 4-part series, we’ll look at the ins and outs of building a virtual team, starting with the business case and moving onto the common challenges that virtual managers face. At the end, you will have a much richer understanding of how and why this operating model works, and how to take full advantage to deliver sustainable results for your organization.
Read on to learn: