Hiring a virtual team is one trend in the business world that reaps many benefits for business owners. It gets you the talent and competence without the added cost for recruiting, training, and benefits required for hiring a new employee.
Although hiring and working with virtual teams is undeniably beneficial, it doesn’t come without its challenges. Some of the problems encountered by virtual teams stem from the unusual geographical set-up, while some others come from the team members themselves. Here are top 5 problems encountered by virtual teams.
Lack of face-to-face communication
The globally dispersed set-up of virtual teams is both a blessing and a curse for its members. It is a blessing because high currency exchange means higher pay. However, it also entails little to no chance of face-to-face interaction with other members they’re working with.
Team members couldn’t chat at the water cooler, or let alone make friends while grabbing coffee together. In a virtual office, communication is usually done through emails or occasional live chat. A lot of times, such patterns in communication often lead to feeling of isolation by every member.
For a team that is online-based, it is a wise decision to use every method of communication that is available in order to promote teamwork. Virtual team leaders can choose to schedule live chat calls more frequently. They can also choose to create a separate message thread where members can openly discuss matters that are not related to work. The “stranger” treatment among members is easier to eliminate when they communicate beyond work.
Limited communication channels
Communication is important for any virtual team. Therefore, to ensure that instructions are properly disseminated to all its members, emails and group messages are usually sent. But are those enough? Not always.
Virtual team leaders can devise a plan to make sure that all instructions are well understood by each member of the team. One on one conversation with each member whether through IM, emails, or live calls would do. Leaders can also ask questions collectively to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Routine is also a huge challenge for any virtual team. With the pile of work and the absence of proper communication pattern, members of virtual teams could easily get lost to their everyday routine that is detrimental to creativity among members.
An “all-work-no-play” environment is usually a boring environment. Do not let your virtual team get stuck in a situation where they only communicate for work-related stuff. Dare to play. Allot a few minutes before work to gather everyone in one chat room (if possible) and play games where everyone is required to participate. Check in on the members’ day. Ask about their weekend plans. Talk about things that are not related to work. Having a relationship outside of work could help promote teamwork. It would also lessen, or better eliminate, the feeling of isolation in everyone.
Cultural differences are always a possibility for any team whose members work from different parts of the world.
In a virtual setting, an improperly constructed message could easily be interpreted as an inconsiderate or offensive. Needless to mention, such situation could lead to misunderstandings and issues within the team.
In order to avoid misinterpretation and miscommunication, communication rules must be set up for members to abide on. Following such rules would promote proper communication and avoid issues that could arise because of it.
The Filipinos also have certain habits that make it a bit more difficult for them to work with. A great example is Filipino time. Learn more about Filipino time on our video below:
Type of Project
Occasionally, members could be presented with situations where their progress would depend on the other member’s work. This situation often leads to slower work progress, and inefficiency by both workers.
Divide tasks in a way that members can individually make their own progress. Avoid tasks that would require two people from opposite parts of the world to work together as time difference could easily be a hurdle to their success.
Despite these major challenges in a virtual office, there are ways to solve these issues. It is possible to get optimum results from a virtual team. With the rising popularity of virtual teams and technological advancements, such hurdles are now easier to manage and overcome.