The virtual strategy has become a common business trend in today’s forward-moving global market. It’s not hard to see why advances in technology made it feasible to work with skilled workers and experts from other countries. This is in spite of their geographical boundaries and varied time zones. Hiring a virtual staff and setting up a virtual office can give the company more flexibility. Cost, output, and business efficiency become more pliable because of this.
It’s not unusual to see people from across the globe collaborating on a single project. Web design could be done in the Philippines, software and tech support in India, and marketing campaigns in the US. But even though a good number of companies have relied on this strategy, not all are successful. Working with a virtual team isn’t the same as working with people that you can see face to face or share a workspace. To make this virtual strategy work, creating and maintaining great relationships with other members of the team is the key.
Common challenges when working with a virtual team
- Building rapport, cooperation, and trust among virtual team members is quite difficult without face-to-face meetings or one-on-one interactions.
- Language and cultural differences, along with other communication barriers, make it hard to keep all the members engaged. Additionally also have a more collaborative attitude when working in a virtual team.
- Conflicts arising from differences in ideas, strategies, and backgrounds aren’t easy to resolve in a virtual team setting. This makes it harder to achieve a consensus or make decisions as a group.
How to create better working relationships in a virtual team
- Establish mutual respect for diverse cultural backgrounds and be sensitive to differences among team members.
- Create your own virtual water cooler within the team through various platforms and social media networks. This is to share personal information and experiences freely. Talk about common interests spontaneously, and send updates, articles, and newsletters to the team so that everybody can get to know each other easily and can feel more connected.
- Be more accessible to other team members, not only during meetings but also through instant messaging and other communication tools. Being more responsive to their feedback, suggestions, and inquiries helps you become more engaging.
- Set common goals and priorities, as well as define roles and responsibilities, to simplify tasks and make sure that everybody is clear with the work process involved to avoid conflicts, frustrations, and misunderstandings.
- Have your own team building and interpersonal development activities so that the virtual team can establish rhythm and learn how to manage conflicts and other challenges as a group.
- Identify common performance barriers, such as lack of cooperation and trust, disengagement, or even the “us vs. them” mentality, to come up with fair and acceptable solutions to these problems and ensure that the team can collaborate with each other better and achieve the common work objectives without delay.
- Acknowledge individual achievements and find ways to celebrate successes even as a virtual team.
- Schedule and attend teleconferences and virtual meetings to be in touch with other members of the team for project updates and for discussing other issues.