Managing A Virtual Team
What is Virtual Team Management
Virtual Team Management is the management of a team in which members perform their work at separate physical locations, connected via computer network. Virtual teams are created to accomplish work that cannot be done within the boundary of one office or country. Today virtual team have become common in companies which operate across different countries. Virtual teams can be found in multinational corporations, government agencies, professional associations, educational institutions.
Virtual teams are created to achieve performance at various levels of interactions among employees (i.e., high-quality product and service delivery). The most common reason for the creation of virtual teams is geographic dispersion. A virtual team is a group of two or more people who work together from different locations via technology-mediated communication to accomplish a shared goal.
Virtual teams are often formed in organizations where there is geographic dispersion of the workforce, such as in multinational corporations. In addition, virtual teams have been used by businesses to overcome language barriers and cultural differences among team members using telecommunication tools and technologies, for example videoconferencing.
The use of virtual teams has created many challenges for managers. Businesses that use these teams need to find ways to reduce the cost associated with telecommunication technologies, face cultural differences among team members, develop trust among geographically dispersed team members, and minimize the effect on group processes (i.e., communications). Even though there are several advantages of virtual teams over face-to-face teams, the challenges associated with these remote work patterns are enormous.
Virtual Team Roles:
Within this project there were four key roles that played an important part in the management of this team. They include the following tutorial leader, course administrator, student mentor and student within each group. The tutorial leader is responsible for the logistics of the course, it’s assessment and organising any additional support. The course administrator was responsible for making sure that everyone on the course has been allocated a workgroup consisting of 3 students all working towards achieving one common goal. They also have to make sure that each group member meets their weekly goals set out by the tutorial leader.
The student mentor is responsible for the students workgroup, it is their responsibility to assist with any problems that may arise or anything that their group member might need help with. The student was also responsible for achieving their weekly goals set out by the tutorial leader and completing all assessment requirements on time.
Virtual project management is very difficult because of the difficulties that often arise with the control of project activities. However, there are several advantages to virtual projects. Virtual teams have more flexibility in assigning resources and adjusting schedules to meet deadlines, since they can be located anywhere in the world at any time. Virtual teams also have access to a wider range of resources, which can bring a variety of ideas and concepts to the table. Virtual teams can improve communication by increasing feedback loops, allowing team members time to reflect on decisions before acting. And this project was successful in these regards because we were able to keep our deadlines and complete our tasks without any difficulties.
The amount of time that many virtual projects spend in planning and organizing is usually more than that of a face to face project. It takes time for people to adjust to the environment and having challenges with communication often leads to issues with coordinating efforts. The lack of structured forms and protocols during virtual meetings can lead some members to feel excluded or lose focus, while others waste time on tangents.
Virtual team building is a term that refers to the actions taken by project managers in order to boost performance, motivation and relationships within a team. It is a powerful tool in increasing a team’s effectiveness all while minimizing the effect of distance on the group process. Virtual team building has been very successful with telecommuters, but can be used successfully with geographically dispersed teams as well.
Virtual team building activities used within this project were the weekly meetings that included icebreakers and reflection, as well as tutoring sessions which helped with technology issues if there were any, motivation was also increased by using positive reinforcement strategies such as giving out prizes randomly or celebrating milestone events to show appreciation for hard work.
Geographical dispersal is often seen as a major issue for virtual teams, but it may actually have several advantages. Virtual team members are not limited to people who are nearby, so they can draw on the best talent available in the world. Employees also see less turnover when they work virtually, because many employees like having remote jobs that allow them to balance family life with work life.
Virtual collaboration is the act of working together on common goals and projects through the use of information communications technology (ICT). Virtual teams can accomplish much more than they would be able to alone, but collaboration between members is difficult because teamwork requires people to communicate effectively. Communication breakdowns are a major obstacle in virtual teams; they can reduce team productivity and thwart the organization’s goals. Collaboration technologies such as teleconferencing, videoconferencing and computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools can help virtual teams communicate more effectively
This was a collaborative project with students from around Australia which allowed us to work together through distance and collaborate on a common goal of achieving a higher mark in the subject.
Virtual teamwork is work done without being present in the same room together, but still can be seen to have “high social presence” within all members of the team. This form of teamwork allows for distant co-ordination between teams that are located around the world. One downside to virtual team, however, is that managers must take extra time to train employees to collaborate effectively through technology.
A team that is able to work well together, without being in the same room is a successful virtual team. To be a successful virtual team you must have good communication skills and trust within teams. Trust is important because if you do not trust the people around you then it will be very difficult to work with them.
The project took place in the OCA computer network on virtual machines that are provided by teachers at the school, this allowed all collaborators to share files and folders which meant that students could access any files they needed regardless of location or system. This also improved communication between team members because everyone had access to the same information.
Virtual team members make decisions by clearly communicating goals, gaining input through brainstorming and encouraging open disagreement. Virtual teams must also use collaborative technology to facilitate knowledge sharing. Collaborative technology is any tool that enables distributed workers to communicate or work together online. This can be as simple as an instant messaging client, or it may include advanced groupware, desktop sharing or Web conferencing.
Virtual teams are more productive when they have well-defined goals that are achievable within each milestone. Setting milestones helps the team focus on what it needs to accomplish, rather than getting overwhelmed by an impossible task. Team members should also meet regularly face-to-face to plan their work and make adjustments as needed.
How to build a high performance remote team?
Rapid team building is based on the fundamental idea that it takes time to build strong relationships, but you can get a significant head start by setting your initial expectations right.
1) Build rapport quickly
2) Be available
3) Make meeting frequency high
4) Ensure contact between team members outside of meetings
5) Make tasks clear and concise
6) Give feedback effectively.
7) Be approachable
8) Over communicate in the beginning
9) Build trust and respect.
Benefits of virtual teams:
Relocating employees: companies can save on relocation costs when expanding into distant markets by simply hiring remote workers. This method requires fewer resources than opening a new office in the area and is often cheaper.
Efficiency: companies can complete more work using virtual teams as they avoid time zone issues and allow employees to work from their homes where distractions are minimal.
Flexibility: if a company does not have enough internal staff to meet demands, it may opt for temporary hires or additional contracts with existing employees on a flexible basis.
Cheaper: since virtual employees are not commuting to work each day, the company avoids paying expensive office rent fees and is able to provide an attractive salary package that includes perks such as health care, pension plans and paid holidays.
Hiring talent: although there has been criticism regarding younger generations’ ability to collaborate in teams, this can be an advantage in a virtual setting. Younger generations are able to communicate effectively using new technologies and social media, thereby improving productivity in industries that require collaboration.
Risk mitigation: if companies outsource non-core activities they mitigate the risk of outsourcing work incorrectly or losing the intellectual property rights when hiring overseas.
Social impact: it is possible to have a positive impact on society by enabling people to volunteer or work from home when they are caring for someone else.
Difficulties with remote teams:
Communication challenges: virtual teams are often separated into different time zones therefore communication can be difficult and less efficient than face-to-face meetings. Communication patterns can also become more informal and casual.
Team bonding: less time spent together can be a barrier to building relationships and trust within the team, which may lead to feelings of isolation and lack of motivation.
Remote workers must work harder: without face-to-face communication remote workers cannot solve problems as quickly as co-located teams, so they must spend more time planning and researching.
Remote workers can lead to safety issues: if employees are working with dangerous equipment or chemicals, there is the risk that they will not report problems with their safety equipment because nobody is present at the work site.
Virtual teams are widely regarded as an effective solution for organisations that want to reduce costs, increase effectiveness and access new markets. The benefits of virtual teams are being recognised in the majority of industries, especially for collaborative projects that require regular communication or when there is a large time difference between team members.