How about managing virtual teams

Virtual teams: challenges and opportunities of "limitless" collaboration

The modern world of work is highly digitized and has fundamentally changed the way we work. There is hardly a job that can do without digital aids. In the future, more and more processes will be done online, outsourced or fed by data from the cloud. It is only logical that employees should also operate more and more mobile, flexible and, above all, decentralized. This ultimately leads to so-called virtual teams. These are colleagues who, in extreme cases, live on other continents and in other time zones, never meet in person and yet implement projects together.

The essentials in brief:

  • Virtual teams are extremely flexible and versatile. Therefore, regardless of location and time, they bring their expertise to a joint project.
  • The cultural and often linguistic diversity can be enormously beneficial for the common goal, but also brings certain problems with it. Communication and understanding problems and, last but not least, the time difference can be obstacles.
  • With the right technology and the right employees, virtual teams can achieve maximum performance if they are led accordingly. Modern, digital leadership based on the principles of digital leadership is the prerequisite for the success of virtual teams.

This is what makes virtual teams so special

Compared to conventional teams, which usually work at the same location in the company, see each other and interact with one another personally, virtual teams have a special status. They often do not know each other personally, only interact via digital communication channels and often work on the project parts at different times. This is made possible by the now enormously powerful digital applications. These include Google Hangouts, Slack, Skype, WebEx or Team Viewer, which implement virtual collaboration and team meetings. In many projects, thanks to these tools, it is no longer necessary for all team members to be physically present in the same room.

The decentralized and location-independent organization of virtual teams enables the optimal combination of the most suitable employees for a project. Often teams are created that would never have existed in one place in this form. This is helpful for start-ups who do not find certain skills in the city where they were founded. But this also suits corporations that want to fill an important project with the best employees from all locations without bringing them together locally.

Virtual collaboration: requirements and problems

In order for virtual teams to work ideally, two factors in particular have to be right: technology and personnel. Virtual teams depend on perfectly functioning technology, otherwise progress is impossible. At the same time, the team members must also master this technique. Specialized personnel without digital affinity or the willingness to deal with digital tools are not suitable for virtual collaboration.

A big mistake companies make is lack of support for virtual teams. This can affect the technical equipment, but also the lack of training time. Virtual teams are not an option to save costs, but rather a structural investment. It takes time and budget to build efficient virtual teams.

Expert tip

Frustration instead of productivity: A lack of support from management or resentful colleagues in the regular office lead to frustration in the virtual team. If a decentralized team is to work, one hundred percent support from the whole company is required.

Virtual leadership of remote teams

Of course, virtual teams also need a manager who sets the direction. In decentralized groups, however, the conventional management style “from above” is no longer appropriate. This is where modern digital leadership comes into play. In this new type of leadership, digital technologies and a relationship of trust and cooperation play the main role.

Many executives in virtual teams state that trust, integrity and mutual support are the main requirements for digital leaders in such situations. On the team side, this often means that managers are no longer perceived as such. This can have negative effects, but it also promotes collaboration and encourages proactive thinking and action.

Leadership in the digital age is based much less on power through position or expertise than on data and participation. Ideally, a digital leader can objectively measure and analyze all services, making use of large amounts of data. The project goal itself is clearly defined, precisely timed and made attractive through positive incentives.

How can you prepare for working in virtual teams?

If you are specifically interested in working in virtual teams or even want to prepare explicitly for such a project, appropriate training courses are recommended. At COMCAVE, for example, you can choose from a large number of training courses and seminars on the subject of work 4.0, digitization and transformation.

In addition, it makes sense to deal extensively with digital media and forms of communication. There are many cooperation tools and cloud-based coworking applications. You can learn to deal with these in intensive seminars.

In a nutshell: virtual teams

In order for virtual teams to work, you need modern management, functioning technology, suitable employees and, last but not least, the backing of the company. This is the only way for these teams to work on a joint project, regardless of location and time, and to bring in their individual strengths.

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2021-03-082021-05-04The modern world of work is highly digitized and has fundamentally changed the way we work. There is hardly a job that can do without digital aids. In the future, more and more processes will be done online, outsourced or fed by data from the cloud. So it is only logical that employees are becoming increasingly mobile, flexible and, above all, decentralized [...]