Virtual teams cut across the boundaries of time, space, culture and sometimes organizations – and chances are, you work on one. It is also likely that you, your teammates and your team leader have been given little to no preparation to work in this complex environment.
It’s a growing issue with no end in sight. Some sources now estimate that more than 1 billion people will work virtually in the next few years.
This is a topic close to my heart – and my research. I’ve been investigating the challenges of participating and leading virtual teams for almost a year. Like many people, I wanted to rush to judgement on the issues with virtual teams and how to solve them. But you can’t design a solution until you understand the problem, and the only way to understand a problem is to define it, validate it and quantify with data. So I did, and the data-driven results are a mixed bag of opportunities and validations.
First a few validations – yes, newly formed virtual team leaders and team members are experiencing significant challenges around leveraging technology, communication practices and access to resources (see below for details). Per my research, these are the top 3 roadblocks to remote team effectiveness:
- Using technology effectively: 24% of respondents say using technology effectively is their biggest hurdle.
- Team communication: An average of 15% of respondents cite team communication as their greatest challenge.
- Access to expertise: 12% report a difficulty in accessing the right resources to support the team.
But when you take a look at more mature virtual teams – teams that have been working together for a year or more – the challenges are different, according to team leader responses. The top challenges to established virtual teams are:
- Keeping the team engaged and motivated – 76%
- Team communication – 72%
- Unlocking the creativity of the team – 52%
But, and here’s the good news, despite these daunting challenges, knowing what you’re up against means you’ll be ready to handle the bumps in the road. Every one of these roadblocks is manageable and correctable.
Virtual team effectiveness is a topic that I will continue to explore and write about this year as I release the full results of my research. There is so much to unpack – here are some of the topics you can look forward to:
- How the frequency of in-person meetings effects a remote team’s success
- The biggest opportunities for leaders of virtual teams
- The best predictors of virtual team effectiveness
- How effective are virtual teams at actually accomplishing results
So stay tuned – there is so much to discover! If your organization is looking for support in making virtual teams more effective, give us a call at http://powersresourcecenter.com/