Are Virtual Teams the Wave of the Future

Are Virtual Teams the Wave of the Future

Interacting with people from all over the world is as easy as a click of a button. This considerably impacts our social lives and we are seeing more and more the result this has on business. The virtual team, or geographically dispersed team (GDT), is a relatively new organizational strategy but the quantity of businesses that have embraced this tactic has grown significantly in the past few years. You may be asking yourself if it right for your business.

The idea that the level of productivity corresponds directly to the amount of face-time a team receives may be a misconception that is falling to the wayside. Managers are acknowledging that an individual’s motivation, the dynamics of the group, and the capabilities of each person can have a much more important impact. Virtual teams allow for more selectiveness when building the team, as location is not a factor. A manager can then find individuals who compliment one another and are self-motivated by the bettering of their personal careers.  Virtual teams can be a blessing to managers because of their productivity and the fact that they need less direct managing.

Virtual teams are not realistic for industries and companies that require physical interaction, but for companies thatdo not require physical proximity, implementing teams that interact remotely is not only feasible but can improve their processes. If you are considering the use of virtual teams in your business here are a few items to consider.

Advantages

  • Recruitment based on competence not proximity
  • Team members can work during the times when they function most efficiently
  • Teams are comprised of members who are self-motivated and self-driven
  • More accommodation for team members’ personal and professional lives
  • No commuting time or expense
  • Reduced overhead, because there is no physical location
  • IT expenses are reduced as most teams use web-based tools for collaboration
  • Managers can better examine the team’s performance because there are less social pressures

Disadvantages

  • Less social interaction, which may be a demotivator for some people
  • Loss of trust between team members if there is not guarantee that everyone is pulling their own weight
  • Creativity might be stifled, as the physical dynamics are lost
  • Team members may overwork themselves as managers can not physically see the length of time each task takes
  • Managers may lose track of the team’s progress, i.e. out of site out of mind

Virtual teams interact through a variety of technology including email, video and audio conferencing, and file sharing programs such as Google Docs. Below are a few programs that can assist teams who interact remotely.

  • Go to meetings – an economical method to have remote conferences
  • Yammer – a exclusive social network for companies that enables quick communication and interaction
  • Drop Box – a free way to share files
  • Second Life – allows for interactive meetings with the use of avatars

If you would like more information on virtual teams in action, look at the articles below: 
http://www.theanywhereoffice.com/mobile-work/telework-viritual-teams-midmarket-companies.htm
http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/19/virtual-teams-meetings-leadership-managing-cooperation.html
http://www.openforum.com/articles/7-effective-tools-for-managing-a-virtual-team