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.
The article notes, however, that in order for such teams to succeed, virtual collaboration must be managed in specific ways. Virtual managers need to learn a new set of skills for communicating, running meetings, and staying on top of progress without the benefit of face-to-face interaction. Virtual employees can do the same, learning what accountability and reliability look like in the virtual space when it can feel like when they are out of sight, they are also out of mind. And for virtual teams that don’t know where to begin, they can take part in an assessment to identify their strengths and areas of opportunity.
Is your virtual team facing challenges with communication and productivity? Don’t give up! With the right resources and training, success may be closer (and more sustainable) than you think.