In today’s workplace, the days of being chained to a desk from 9 to 5 are gone. Employees have more flexibility in how they work and when they work. Many companies have become more productive by using a virtual team approach. When physical boundaries do not confine employees, they can be more productive because they save the physical energy they spent commuting.
How to Define a Virtual Team
Virtual teams are people connected through the internet via email, mobile phones, instant messenger, etc., for work. A virtual team may have members of various locations and time zones, but they all share one thing; a common goal of being productive together.
Managing a Virtual Team vs. Managing Real Teams
It could be helpful for managers who have never worked virtually before to compare their experiences leading real teams versus virtual ones. While many of the skills required for both types of workers will overlap, it might be reassuring for employees tasked with managing people remotely to know that they’re not alone in their struggle. For example, some managers may have difficulty finding the balance between being too hands-on and not active enough with their team members when located remotely.
The Benefits of Working Remotely
In addition to allowing people freedom from physical boundaries, working virtually also offers many other benefits for employees from various backgrounds. Collaborating on projects from so many different locations can yield a more diverse set of opinions and views, which can help generate fresh ideas and innovations that might otherwise be overlooked. Also, employees who work remotely benefit from having more control over how they schedule their days, opposed to those confined to one office space for an entire career.
Benefits to Leading People Virtually
When physical boundaries do not confine employees, they can be more productive by working remotely. The flexibility of remote work allows employees to create their workspace, allowing better focus. Furthermore, some jobs are more amenable to remote work than others.
How to Lead a Virtual Team
From a Carlton James standpoint, many practical leadership skills do not change when employees start working remotely. Leading a team is the same, whether virtual or “bricks and mortar” office. Communication is vital, whether to chat with your team every day, use video conferencing, or provide feedback on improving the virtual workspace. Virtual teams need constant communication for them to work successfully.
A virtual team does not mean that all employees work in their own office and complete tasks without contacting one another. Virtual teams rely on communication technology to collaborate and share ideas. Many technological advancements have improved how people work virtually.
One challenge that managers of virtual teams face is ensuring that team members are continually motivated, especially when they are not regularly in the same place at the same time. An effective manager will guide their team in setting clear goals and objectives while remaining flexible with deadlines due to varying time zones in which different team members may be operating.
Working remotely provides freedom from physical boundaries; however, it does not mean employees should lose sight of what sets them apart- teamwork. Managed effectively, remote teams can yield great results.