Virtual Teams Series: How to Effectively Work with a Virtual Team

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Communication and collaboration are two key success factors of effectively managing virtual teams, and ultimately, making the team work efficiently for you.

Virtual teams are linked together by communication technologies that allow them to interact electronically by email, instant messaging, and Voice over IP technologies like Skype. For US based businesses, an internet-based telephone service (VoIP) is an essential tool for real time communication. Conferences can be done through telecons and video conferencing as well.

Managing virtual teams effectively and efficiently
If you’re the leader of a virtual team, keep in mind that you’re managing a set of individuals with different personalities and eccentricities. More often than not, they will be working from different time zones, at different hours. For virtual teams to work effectively, the virtual team leader should:

Set clear team goals and objectives – make sure that each team member has completely understood and accepted project goals.

Define work responsibilities and accountabilities of each member – team members should be clear with each member’s role, and how a member’s inaction or delay can affect the work that the other members are responsible for.

Supplement team conferences with one-on-one time with each member – regular online meetings should be followed up with individual discussions with each member of the team. This ensures that each member is clear with project goals and timelines. Individual issues and questions that are of a more personal or confidential nature can be addressed during this time.

Make each team member feel his or her ownership in the project – A sense of ownership leads to commitment and focused action. Allow collaborative effort for team members by involving the whole team in the decision making processes that need consensus and commitment. Set group goals and do regular group discussions of possible solutions and outcomes.

Ensure seamless communication lines – make sure there are no blocked lines of communication and each member of the team is kept fully informed of all developments at all times.

Strengthen team rapport and camaraderie within the virtual team environment – make it a point to incorporate team building activities and opportunities for extra social time with each other into your schedule. The benefits for your team are invaluable. Among other things, this smoothens relationships among team members and encourages open lines of communication.

These are just some tips that can help you effectively manage and get the most out of your virtual teams. Working with virtual teams can be a challenge, but also provides several benefits, both tangible and intangible – but this is a topic for a future post.

For the next post in the series, we’ll discuss collaboration programs or software that can further help you manage your teams and ensure seamless coordination on project goals and timelines. Until then, do you have any tips for effectively working with a virtual team? Share them in the comments.

Check out the other posts in our Virtual Teams Series:

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  1. Helen Grace P. Montajes

    This article provides comprehensive information in working with a virtual team. In a world wherein a lot of people depend on information technology to keep up in a fast paced environment especially for business, this article gives the importance of a virtual team to address clients’ needs across the globe. The details of the article give specific instructions in handling the team. As we know, there are a lot of things to do when a client wants to keep up their business. In reality, if there is no proper communication and collaboration, this would create stress and tension of each team member that could also make a lot of misunderstandings and would provide misleading information when reporting to the client. So every time I read articles like this, it would give me a constant reminder to help each other out for the whole team itself. For the team leaders, this serves a good piece of advice in handling the virtual team.

  2. PJ

    Great tips Maan, these tips are very useful to manage virtual teams effectively. There are also different ways to manage virtual team and I believe that in order to manage virtual teams effectively you will need the right online tools and resources that can help you run your business effectively and efficiently to progress. Communication is the key to virtual team. Skype can help you communicate to your virtual team. Here are some of the tools that you will need to manage virtual team.

  3. Wilfredo Millan

    This article really helps on how you work effectively with a virtual team as a leader. Team Leaders should really focus on the needs of the team members to keep the team running and be one of the best team there is. Leaders should always set some goals on the team and make the team productive. Some Team Leaders is more focus on the tasks and sometimes forgets about the team. Leaders should always remember that without the team, Team leaders don’t exist! This article should not only be read but also be reflected by Team Leaders who want to have a good team! This article really helps a lot! Thank you

  4. abby

    The tips are very helpful most especially when managing virtual teams. This would be very helpful for leaders to be effective with their subordinates but I guess this not only applies to virtual teams but also on jobs which require teamwork

  5. Doreen

    I agree with the writer when she says, “A sense of ownership leads to commitment and focused action.” It is important to make all team members feel that they truly are part of the team. Do this and you will gain loyalty from your people.

    To add to the list above, it would be advantageous, both to the team members and the company, to conduct regular trainings. With this opportunity for growth (both personally and professionally), not only can all team members improve their skills, but also the team leader will be able to assess his/her people and see who needs help the most. I also suggest that the team leader monitor each of his/her member’s progress.

  6. Glorypearl Dy

    The detailed discussion about managing virtual team effectively and efficiently is enlightening. I find this quote: “set group goals and do regular group discussions of possible solutions and outcomes” highly relevant especially with the growing number of departments in every virtual office. However redundant it may sound, the trick still lies on effective communication among external and internal teams.Putting mechanism close to perfect can lead to one tangible benefit for a virtual team.I know that you are planning to provide a separate article for this, but allow me to input details first.Working in a good virtual team actually proves the success of a metaphysical office where people are not required actual touch to perform duties productively.It allows people to choose the area to focus and gives them the benefit to ignore irrelevant interaction. All these, while assuring an automatic backup system.

  7. Loren Marie Bismonte

    I like the tips that are being pointed out on this blog, and I believe that behind an effective Team, is a great Leader. They should always inspire their members to do their best for them to perform well and deliver quality works. Leaders should always establish a good relationship with his/her team members. Having good team rapport will have a great impact on the success of the team and communication in my opinion is always the key. If communication is well established by the Leader, I believe everything else follows.

  8. Jessica

    Two heads are better than one! It is an old saying but it is totally true. I agree with the gist of the blog and especially the tips given that are needed to become a great virtual team. The first statement about communication and collaboration is a good way to start it. It is about understanding each members of the team and not thinking about oneself. I think the main idea is to treat your team as a family, that you are one and everything a member does, it reflects the team itself.

  9. The Office Escape

    Great post! I really appreciate all the tips you’ve shared. With this detailed discussion, I’m pretty sure, that all Virtual Teams are enlightened. Having a Virtual Team, this is such a help. I could relate, because my team is my second family! Thanks for the useful information.

  10. Michelle Perez

    This is a good article. It talks about the team’s efficiency if everyone are just on the same page. Exactly, communication is very important. The line of communication should be clear for both parties to be able to do the job smoothly. It will also make the environment happy and stress-free. Team work with great communication can be a tool to successful and productive environment especially when we talk about Virtual Team. The good thing about it is that there are many ways of communicating now. We have the means to communicate using the internet like social network or instant messenger. It will make the communication easier and faster if some of the team members are not physically together with you they can still be with you using the great technology we have.


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