What is a Virtual Team and How to Leverage Them
What Are Global Virtual Teams?
According to a Gallup poll, 43 percent of Americans worked at least part of the time remotely in 2017. No longer bound by their home location, they can leverage their skills and expertise to serve businesses across the world. Today, professionals in a variety of countries are doing the same thing as part of a global virtual team.
So, what is a virtual team? It’s a group of people who work together in the digital space to achieve a shared goal or objective. They use IT, hardware, and software, including online communication tools, to complete a specific project, such as the development of a mobile app or a website re-design. The team can be local, working for the same company in one geographic location. They may also be a diverse staff of experts who work for different enterprises and reside in various cities and countries all over the world.
Global virtual teams are expected to deliver on projects with either limited or no direct physical contact with the other group members. One of the most significant benefits of putting this type of staff together is the ability to recruit high-level professionals from the broadest talent pool available.
What Are the Pros & Cons of Virtual Teams?
In recent years, managing virtual teams has allowed companies of all sizes to enhance their operational efficiency, productivity, and innovation. Additional benefits of virtual teams include:
1. Accessibility to global talent: Employing a worldwide remote staff means organizations can look for talent beyond their country of origin. This creates an instant diversity of perspective. In many cases, it also helps meet the cultural and language needs of international clients.
2. Reduced time to market. By having staff in different time zones all over the world, companies benefit from a 24-hour workday. This coverage and flexibility ensures someone is continuously working on a given project.
3. Lower employee costs. Since on-site requirements do not restrain staff members, organizations can access experts from cities or countries with the same (or higher) level of talent with a lower cost of living.
4. Increased productivity. A remote environment eliminates office distractions and time spent on the daily commute. It also empowers top-tier talent to choose their work hours, which increases productivity. A study from Stanford found that working virtually led to a 13 percent improvement in performance.
When you examine a business decision, it’s essential to explore the cons as well as the pros. The disadvantages of virtual teams include:
1. Cost of technology. A successful virtual team needs reliable technology to communicate on a consistent basis. Necessary tools include messaging apps, email, and virtual conference software. Although there are some free alternatives, paid services lead to increased overall operating costs, especially if they are in place for a larger group.
2. Team conflicts. In a virtual teamwork environment, there is less opportunity than in a traditional office for employees to get to know each other and engage in team-building activities. The lack of connection can lead to a variety of interpersonal issues, including conflict and mistrust.
3. Social isolation. Since virtual teams communicate primarily to discuss tasks, they miss out on personal conversations and interactions, which can lead to a feeling of social isolation.
Every work setup has its perks and drawbacks. If businesses work to create collaborative opportunities and manage technology costs, the benefits of virtual teams can significantly outweigh the shortcomings.
How to Successfully Leverage & Manage Global Virtual Teams
To create an effective virtual team that fosters both collaboration and trust, your company’s leaders and managers should know to manage virtual teams successfully. It’s important to do the following:
1. Build an excellent staff. In addition to professionalism and expertise in their skill area, each team member should be a self-starter, have strong communication skills, and work well independently. The size of the group should be manageable enough to feel inclusive and allow for seamless cooperation on projects.
2. Assign clear roles. Everyone needs to have a command of their job duties, as well as an understanding of the functions of their fellow team members. Role clarity minimizes potential conflicts and helps teams work more efficiently.
3. Foster trust. Team members trust each other and promote diversity of creativity when they understand and respect the knowledge each staffer brings to the table. Build confidence by using your communication tools to publish bios of new and existing team members, highlighting their experience and skills. Give less vocal team members a voice by asking for suggestions and contributions based on their expertise. Establish focused metrics and goals to encourage both team and individual success.
4. Design an iterative workflow. Many global virtual teams receive regular team leader communication but collaborate less individually. Others assign work to qualified members, then put their portions of the project together later. However, an iterative workflow, which assigns packages of work to the entire team, requires group members to communicate, trust each other, and pivot on changes made to the product during each stage of the pipeline.
Whether you’re planning a development project for the web, mobile, or cloud, managing global virtual teams can provide you with access to some of the most skilled professionals from around the world, all while helping you complete your project faster and at a more affordable cost. By committing to leading your team effectively and investing in the right communication tools, you will be able to leverage the advantages of remote collaboration without being impacted by potential disadvantages.
iTexico is experienced in helping companies innovate and grow their business by offering end-to-end software development and management services from their delivery centers in Aguascalientes and Guadalajara, Mexico. In building virtual teams that are customized to your organization’s unique needs, we can begin your project quickly and deliver it more efficiently and in less time. For information about our NearshorePlus model, visit our website.
iTexico is devoted to providing multidisciplinary software development teams as a service for Mobile, Web, and Cloud. We provide end-to-end design, development, testing, devops, and support services by leveraging an innovative Nearshore+ delivery model. With its headquarters in Austin, TX, and wholly-owned delivery centers in Guadalajara and Aguascalientes, Mexico, iTexico has experienced steady growth every year for the last 7 years serving startup, growth, mid-market, and enterprise technology-driven companies, including Carbon Black, ESRI, Microsoft, Integral Ad Science, HomeAway, and others. For more information, please visit http://www.itexico.com.
Written by Anahí
Marketing Coordinator at iTexico, Communication, Marketing, and PR professional; add the word Digital. With 7 years of experience in in Public Relations and Institutional Affairs in the IT industry. Interested in Information Technology and Politics.