Virtual Team Management: Unleashing the Potential in the Digital Age

As many companies continue to incorporate digital technology into their workplaces, a growing number of professionals are now working from home. While remote working has many advantages, leaders often benefit from developing effective approaches and systems to make online work more successful. Therefore, learning proper virtual team management of remote employees can help improve their productivity and engagement.

Like any traditional team, a virtual team involves people interacting to achieve interdependent tasks and work towards a shared goal. However, instead of functioning and seeing each other in the same place or office, the team members work in different areas, often at home and across different time zones. Therefore, it is essential to know how to effectively manage a team in this kind of situation.

Virtual Team Management: Growth of Virtual Teams

Taking a journey down history lane, we can trace the origins of virtual teams back to the 1950s. It all started with the development of computer modems and optic fibre.

This technological advancement enabled people to collaborate across geographic, time zone, and cultural boundaries towards a common objective. Subsequently, the introduction of personal computers in the 1960s, cell phones in the 1970s, and the internet in the 1990s laid the groundwork for the establishment of virtual teams.

According to a Management Study Guide, the virtual team became an exploratory topic in the 1990s, with tech companies such as Sun Microsystems heavily funding virtual teams.

Fast-forward to this year, the virtual team, remote team, or hybrid work surroundings have evolved de rigueur in business settings. And this movement is going nowhere in the prolonged haul. 

Virtual Teams vs. Traditional Teams

Simply put, a team works jointly to acquire a preset goal. A standard or collected team is a group of people who work together in physical closeness. Conversely, a virtual team contains a set of individuals who perform from diverse locations to achieve a conveyed goal.

The key distinction between traditional and virtual teams is physical distance. Besides this, traditional and virtual teams convey a couple of more distinctions, such as:

Team Selection

Usually, traditional teams are chosen based on their functional skills and practical apprenticeship. But unfortunately, testing skills in virtual team selection are unattainable. The lack of face-to-face interaction creates choosing a competent virtual team difficult.

Thus, technological intervention is necessary to enable individuals to cooperate over operational and cultural borders. So, remote team recruiters must use virtual interviews, psychometric testing, and time-tracking instruments to test functional skills despite physical borders.

Community Structure

More balanced organizational structures with blurred lines between management and hierarchies can be glimpsed in virtual teams. It demands a hypercompetitive market and innovative mindset to support virtual teams in accomplishing their primary objective. The standard work culture and policies can’t support a virtual workflow. 

Leadership Nature

The traditional leadership style will not operate in remote teams. Micromanagement and managing each team member’s activity are unattainable in the virtual work arrangement. Therefore, virtual managers understand how to empower more work team members than traditional teams. The virtual leadership technique is somewhere between democratic and coaching. 

Information Sharing Practices

Most traditional teams use informal and formal conversation patterns to exchange knowledge. But virtual teams have limited means of communication in their hands. Thus, they need regular updates and shared databases to create a transparent information-passing method.

Relationship Formation

Traditional teams complete daily and spend hours socializing with one another. They can create strong relationships, from lazy chit-chat during lunch breaks to formal group conversations.

But unfortunately, virtual teams don’t get many chances to build a powerful bond. Therefore, virtual team leaders must concentrate more on team-building activities like informal sessions, games, etc.

Creating a Virtual Team

Virtual teams often become rather than get planned that way. Whether you intentionally choose to set up a virtual team or your virtual team has developed, it’s likely to be for one or more of the following grounds:

  • In response to trouble or emergency, such as the coronavirus pandemic, when governments announced severe limitations on travel and social interaction.
  • Take edge of the best skills and personnel, irrespective of your business’s location.
  • To offer a 24-hour range by team members working across time zones.
  • To decrease office overhead by having team associates work from home.
  • To enable cost-effective and flexible resource scheduling: you can scale up or down as demand requires.

When you establish a virtual team, the world is your oyster; you can recruit individuals with the proper skills anywhere they are. You can use team members in various time zones to deliver your customers or clients’ round-the-clock availability or accessibility. 

Furthermore, you can effortlessly bring in part-time individuals and smoothly incorporate experts who need only contribute for a few hours each month.

On the one hand, this represents immense flexibility. On the flip side, you encounter the challenge of working with people you may never meet and negotiating with people from widely different cultures and languages and with diverse personalities.

Virtual Team Management Tips

Holding all of this technology makes telecommuting and operating from home a much more feasible option. Yet, virtual team management is another case. To make this method as stress-free as possible, here are some useful guides for managing a successful virtual team and preparing for the challenges you might encounter. 

Utilize the Most Useful Communication Technologies.

Today’s multiple communication possibilities companies are part of the cause virtual teams are feasible. Choose a communication technique that functions best for your team to make your employees succeed. Mediums such as video, chat, email, messaging, and others can all be operated by employees to stay in touch and cooperate effectively from distant locations.

Define Tasks and Methods, Not Just Objectives and Roles. 

The key to successful virtual team management is clearly and consistently transmitting expectations around goals, functions, tasks, and procedures. Because people work remotely, there is more possibility for distraction or miscommunication. With regular reminders and contact, virtual teams can be as adequate as in the office.

As a Leader, Be Functional. 

If you’re managing a virtual team, you need to be a seed of help and leadership, which means regularly being available to your team. Sharing your contact information might not be a lousy idea outside of your work communication. 

Track Work Creation. 

Metrics matter, especially when tracking work-from-home success. Management must track the timing, quality, and triumph of work output to keep everyone on task and verify that working from home is practical. 

Set Up a Project Management System.

Change is challenging, doubly so when it comes to work techniques. But project management software helps support all employees on the same page and stops work from slipping through the cracks. There are many choices, so do your task to search for one that functions for your company. 

Virtual Team Management: Conclusion

Virtual teams are not a trend in the business world. They’re here to stay – technologies and software are reaching the pace of what virtual employees need, employees are suggesting their friends join a virtual team, and there’s comfort for managers as they conduct virtual teams.  As you look into virtual team management well and evolve these employees, hang on to these guides, and don’t be terrified to be creative in your virtual workspace. 

With Infinity Web Solutions, you can unlock the full possibility of your remote workforce. Our advanced virtual team management solutions entrust you to seamlessly blend, communicate, and optimize your disseminated teams. No more challenges of distance and greetings to streamlined functions, enhanced efficiency, and excellent results.

Contact Infinity Web Solutions now and explore the journey towards unprecedented virtual team management excellence. Let’s shape the tomorrow of virtual work.