11 of the Greatest Challenges the Virtual Teams are Facing Now

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By Tiffany Harper

Virtual teams are a reality now, and it is estimated that by 2022, more than 50% of the workforce will be virtual. This means that companies need to prepare for this change in order to maintain their competitive edge.

Virtual teams are an effective way to collaborate across different time zones, cultures, and languages. However, they also come with their own set of challenges that must be faced in order to succeed. Here are 11 of the greatest challenges virtual teams face now:

I. Not having the right virtual collaboration tools

Having the right tools is crucial to virtual teams. It allows them to communicate in real-time, share files and documents, collaborate on projects, brainstorm ideas together across different locations, and more. 

Solution: You can use conferencing tools like Skype, Google Hangouts, and GoToMeeting to overcome this. Using the right technology is crucial for virtual teams to be successful.

Trust

II. Lack of trust

The lack of face-to-face communication means that many aspects of a relationship are left up to assumption – and not all assumptions carry weight with everyone on the team. It’s hard to build trust across different locations and time zones without knowing how people feel directly or their body language during conversations. 

Solution: Trust is an essential component in building any virtual team as you share sensitive information over email and phone calls without being able to see one another face-to-face. To help establish trust early on into your virtual team, make sure you have a mutual understanding of your goals and vision.

III. Cultural differences

Virtual teams often consist of members from various cultural backgrounds. This can cause communication issues due to different norms and values, time zones, working styles, work ethics, etc.

Solution: To overcome the challenge presented by culture differences on virtual teams, make sure that you’re establishing clear goals and objectives at the beginning of your team’s journey together (you may want to consider creating a Vision Board which could just be what you need to succeed). It would be best to establish regular check-ins throughout project milestones with other members to avoid miscommunication or unclear expectations.

IV. Time zone issues

With virtual teams spanning different time zones, it becomes difficult to determine when and where everyone will be available to collaborate during business hours.

Solution: There are several business tools that allow seamless communication across teams despite issues like time zone differences. To avoid wasting valuable working hours setting up conference calls or video chats with team members in other parts of the world, come up with a schedule that works best for all parties early on, so there are no surprises later down the road. You can also establish an online chat room or use services like Slack, allowing you to have more control over your communications regardless of what part of the globe they’re taking place in.

V. Lack of face-to-face communication

One of the biggest challenges that virtual teams are facing now is a lack of face-to-face communication. We’ve all experienced this in some way, whether it’s when you’re trying to explain something over email or phone calls and can’t get your point across properly because there isn’t enough context to draw from.

Solution: One of the best ways to overcome a lack of face-to-face communication is with video conferencing tools like Skype or Zoom. Using these types of services allows you and your team members to communicate effectively no matter where they’re located and share files and documents in real-time.

VI. Lack of structure

When you don’t have the opportunity to meet with your team in person on a regular basis, it can be difficult to keep everyone on track and organized. Without knowing exactly who’s working on what within the virtual workplace, teams can easily get lost when trying to figure out how all of their projects are connected or where they stand in terms of completing them.

Solution: To avoid losing track of your work and team members, make sure you’re keeping everyone accountable for the tasks they need to be completing by using a tool like Basecamp or Asana, which allows virtual teams to set due dates and keep each other informed about what’s getting done (and what needs more attention).

VII. Poor time management

Another huge challenge that virtual teams are facing is poor time management. Since it can be challenging to keep track of what everyone else on the team is doing, you may find yourself working extra hours in order to get your own tasks done without knowing whether or not others are putting in the same amount of effort.

Solution: There are a number of different time management techniques that virtual teams can use to effectively manage their work, like establishing company-wide projects and goals (and following them on the project level), as well as holding regular meetings, so you know what everyone else is working on.

VIII. Disparity in communication style

When you’re working from home, there’s a good chance that your communication style will be very different from those who work in an office. Virtual teams may struggle at first because they need to learn how best to communicate with each other and adjust their styles accordingly, so everyone on the team feels included and no one person dominates conversations.

Solution: Start by planning virtual meetings with your team members early on so you can get to know each other better and establish a set of rules for how best to communicate. You may even want to consider having certain people act as moderators in online discussions or chat rooms, especially if they see things starting to go off the rails.

IX. Lack of focus

When you don’t have the opportunity to meet with your team in person regularly, it can be difficult to keep everyone focused. Virtual teams may find themselves sidetracked by other tasks or responsibilities, so they have to work overtime just to get everything that needs doing done.

Solution: To avoid being sidetracked by other tasks, make sure you’re fully leveraging project management software like Asana or Basecamp, which can help virtual teams prioritize their work and keep them on track to complete the task at hand.

Office

X. Disparity in work ethic

There’s a good chance that the people you’re working with on your virtual team don’t live anywhere near you. Because of this, it can be difficult to keep everyone motivated and inspired – especially if they feel like their work isn’t making as much of an impact as those who are physically located closer to one another.

Solution: To avoid having team members lose motivation and get discouraged, make sure you establish clear goals and deadlines that everyone needs to meet (and then follow through on them). Having a clearly defined schedule will keep employees feeling inspired and excited rather than unmotivated or burned out.

XI. Lack of accountability

It can be difficult keeping track of what everyone on your virtual team is working on, especially if there are multiple people. Not only that, but it’s easy for one or two individuals to dominate the conversation and take over tasks without waiting for others to offer their input first (which can lead to employees feeling disengaged).

Solution: The best way to keep everyone accountable is by planning and holding virtual meetings on a regular basis. By having these conversations in real-time, you can ensure that every team member has the opportunity to contribute their ideas, so no one person takes over or dominates the conversation. Similarly, if you’re looking for an accountable essay writer, it may help checking the website with case study writing services just to be sure.

Bottom Line

Many businesses struggle when it comes to managing the culture within a virtual team. For a workforce that is spread out around the globe not only to understand what they are supposed to do but also how they should be doing it, leaders must shift their mindset from using past practices as well as forcing employees into specific roles.

About the Author

Tiffany Harper is a training guru who’s been working in the corporate sector as a technology expert for several years now. She is a management graduate and loves to share her experience through blogs and expert articles with some professional college essay writers. Because she loves to realize the reliable service, some time ago she provided online consultations while working with EssayWritingLand.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.