This is the 4th and final post in Pepper’s Virtual Teams Series. In case you’ve missed the first three posts, you can check out What is a Virtual Team, How to Effectively Work with a Virtual Team, and Online Collaboration Tools for Virtual Teams.
Everything has an upside and a downside, and this includes working with virtual teams. Being part of one, I can objectively list down the benefits and challenges of doing things the virtual way.
Benefits of working with a Virtual Team
- You can work with the best set of skills – Because virtual work is not limited to a geographical time and space, you can choose to hire the best person for the job, no matter where they are in the world. Even if they are scattered all over the globe, your team members’ skills and expertise are still available to you.
- Lower overhead costs – Since your staff is not physically in the office or your place of business, you can save on office space, rent, equipment, utilities, and other costs that go with renting, leasing or owning physical property.
- Flexible team scheduling – Work hours are more flexible for those who work with virtual teams. Members can choose their hours as long as they deliver on the tasks assigned tot hem. As long as schedules, leaves, and days off are pre-arranged and agreed upon, team members can enjoy the benefits of flexible work scheduling.
- Reduced Commute Time – You and your virtual team need can avoid the rush hour commute to work. Since less time is wasted on commuting to and from the office, you can devote more of your day to actual work. On top of this, you get to save on gasoline, parking, and other transportation costs.
- Work life balance – Your team can have a better quality of life with a balanced work schedule. The flexible schedule allows them more quality time for themselves, not to mention their spouses and children.
- Work measures become more reliable – Since there is minimal to no actual physical interaction, work metrics need to be used to determine just how much work is done. This is a more accurate way of measuring work results than the showboating that sometimes occurs in offices because you see results that are based on set quantitative metrics.
Challenges of a Virtual Business
- A lot of room for misinterpretation – Since interaction is done in a virtual work environment, it is harder to express and read emotions accurately. Emotions and expressions that cannot that we usually read well during face to face interactions are not as easily read through messaging, email, or phone conversations.
- More challenging to visually represent thoughts and ideas – Let’s face it – gathering people in front of a whiteboard is one of the most efficient methods of brainstorming and communicating ideas. With no (or limited) face to face conversations, we have to rely on online programs or tools, and sometimes, these limit the visual presentations that an excited team member may have regarding a project plan or idea.
- Team members may not be as transparent – Team members may not readily level with the other members regarding their project issues or difficulties. Granted, this is also a problem with physical offices, but it’s a lot easier to hide when your interaction with others is limited to online tools.
- Time Zone Management — This is almost a given. While working in different time zones allows you to work around the clock, having people spread across multiple time zones also poses a scheduling challenge.
- Fewer Opportunities to Bond Away From Work – Team rapport is harder to build when there is no option for the members to have a bottle or two for the road when the work day ends. Activities that build camaraderie such as break time conversations or meal breaks that serve as bonding time are not available to virtual teams.
- Over communication becomes a work standard – In the virtual environment, it is better to communicate, clarify, and confirm everything to make sure that all members have the same understanding about the task at hand. This produces of ton of paperwork and files that could quickly fill your archives.
We’ve walked you through the what, the why, and the how to make virtual teams effectively work for you. If you ask me, the biggest advantage of having a virtual team is the resource pool of talent, skills and varied expertise that each member of the team brings with them, that you can readily access from behind that virtual work space. Perhaps you can add to our list of pros and cons, or share with us your personal experience of having worked with a virtual team.
Having read this series, and maybe even some more of Pepper blogs and client testimonials, do you think a Pepper virtual team can help you do your business better and faster?
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Pepper Virtual Assistant Services is a business solutions firm that specializes on administrative assistance, customer support, CRM, copywriting, and personal virtual assistance. We take pride in our reliable service and responsive client handling which embodies our team’s optimal performance.