With remote working here to stay, which means that virtual teams will become more and more commonplace within businesses all around the world. Since the onset of COVID-19, many businesses had to figure out how to continue to work and collaborate when everyone was remote. Some companies hit the ground running – such as TechQuarters, a company that specializes in IT support services in London, and who have been remote since the very beginning of COVID-19.
There are some significant benefits for going fully remote as a company; for example, if you are not tied to a single location, you can start hiring new employees from any region, or any country. Companies can build a global workforce if they implement the right technologies. Of course, a company that deals mainly with virtual teams will have to consider certain challenges.
Unfortunately, there are still many who find it difficult to put faith in people’s work if they cannot see it for themselves; this is why a lack of trust can be a major challenge for virtual teams. The trouble is that when a team is virtual, and colleagues are spread across multiple locations, and possibly even time zones, it is harder to get to know one another – things like a colleague’s opinions and attitudes, their body-language, etc. are all important factors in learning to trust someone.
The solution for virtual teams is to engage in virtual team-building activities – things like virtual games, quizzes, and even regular virtual coffee breaks in order to share downtime are good ideas. Remote companies like TechQuarters often opt to schedule daily meetings in the morning, in order to have consistent facetime among teams, and to provide a quick way to catch up on work and projects.
Lack of Collaboration Tools
Collaboration is easy when everyone is present physically; teams can gather in a conference room, share ideas, visualize various concepts on a whiteboard, and talk things out easily. On the other hand, virtual teams may face challenges around collaboration. With a virtual team, you are limited to a small camera feed for each participant; there may be latency issues due to differing broadband speeds, and time zones might make it hard to schedule meetings that everyone can attend.
This is why it is important to provide virtual teams with lots of collaborative tools – for there are plenty available. Using the right conferencing tool, such as Microsoft Teams, will give you a range of options during a collaborative session. For instance, Teams allows you to share your screen to present ideas; it also has a virtual whiteboard function; and there are ways now to create a consensus on when meetings should be scheduled, so that all time zones and schedules can be taken into consideration.
With a virtual team it can be very difficult to manage everyone’s time effectively. With nobody in the same office as each other, it can be challenging for each team member to keep track of what the others are doing. Some team members may have difficulty managing their own time while working remotely, and therefore end up working extra hours to complete workloads – all the while, they have no idea whether other team members are completing their tasks either.
In order to make this easier, teams can implement a range of time management and workload management techniques. For instance, it is very useful to establish goals and projected milestones for a project – even for small projects, having those milestones to work towards can ensure the team remains on track. As well, holding regular meetings to catch everyone up is also worthwhile.