If you have ever tried to set up a meeting, you know just how difficult it can be. No one is ever available at the same time or people inevitably have other things come up. The most common solution for this issue is typically to turn to a virtual meeting, either through a video chat service or using a messaging platform.
In today’s world of technological development and online worlds, virtual teams are becoming more and more common in the professional world. Virtual teams are highly convenient for professionals who need to work from home or travel often, but they also come with their own set of challenges and obstacles.
Because virtual teams are, well, virtual, the team loses out on a lot by excluding face-to-face interaction and communication. Here are three common problems for virtual teams and tips to ease the issues and make your team efficient and successful.
When you don’t communicate face to face, you can lose a lot of valuable social cues from body language and facial expressions. Although a virtual team through video chat may not experience this quite as much as a team that only messages, the problem still exists. The most dangerous thing about this challenge of virtual teams is that it may be difficult to recognize. Although the team may still communicate, it simply may not be quite as effective as face-to-face communication. As a result, the efforts and success of the team may suffer.
In order to better communicate with your virtual team, you can take deliberate and intentional steps to ensure that everyone is respected, heard, and informed. Start each meeting by addressing goals, giving updates, and offering an outline of the agenda. End each meeting by asking for questions or concerns from all members of the meeting. Make the environment one that supports diverse opinions and perspectives and welcomes concerns that others may have.
When you have weekly or bi-weekly meetings with a team face-to-face, you can pretty quickly build a team identity that members are proud to be a part of. However, with virtual teams, it can be more difficult to establish the identity of the team because there is real distance between the members. On a virtual team, members may feel less connected to the other team members.
To tackle the issue of team identity, you should focus on ways to make personal connections with members of the teams. To get started, it may be beneficial to create a tradition for your team, or something that you do at the beginning or end of every meeting. Get to know members of the team and make time to talk with them about anything but work. Doing so builds relationships and creates a stronger connection.
If members are part of teams that meet and work together in person, it may be difficult for them to give the same level of commitment to a virtual team. For some people, it’s much easier to prioritize in-person work than it is to prioritize virtual work, meaning that members of virtual teams may have different levels of commitment.
While this issue also exists for in-person teams, it stems from a different place for virtual teams. Because the issue is typically about prioritizing, it’s important to hold members accountable for their work so that they continue to commit to the team and its goals.
Although virtual teams can be challenging, they hold great potential to be successful and provide options for members working from home or traveling. If your virtual team faces challenges, you can take steps to minimize them and maximize your team potential.