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Virtual teams are facing lots of challenges today as they work on their tasks. These challenges vary across teams and their stages of growth. Several studies have shown that virtual teams are more productive, healthier, and have a positive work-life balance. Studies have also shown that virtual team members take fewer days off and stick with an organization in the long run.
Remote working sounds like everything an organization needs to boost its productivity and performance. However, working remotely has lots of challenges that managers need to overcome. In this article, we will share the twelve greatest challenges that are facing remote teams and how they can overcome them.
1. Managing projects
The biggest challenge facing virtual teams is the management of projects. This is mainly caused by the spread of team members across different locations. Managers need to ensure that all team members perform their duties and meet the deadlines. Without a physical presence, it can be hard to supervise or track tasks especially for big projects. As a manager, you can overcome this challenge by appropriately assigning tasks and keeping track of their progress. There are a lot of apps that you can use to save energy and time. Some of the best resources in project management include Monday.com and Trello.
Communication within a virtual team is important largely because there is no face-to-face interaction. The manager has to track the progress of every project regularly and know the strategies that their team is using. Remote team members need to communicate regularly with each other to generate ideas and achieve their goals.
Managers can improve team communication by opening several communication lines, reading assignment help UK articles, and being available to their team members. Instead of calling or messaging team members, they should consider using video conferences and chatting apps to make their interaction sessions lively. Also, encouraging your team to communicate about their hobbies and interests will help.
3. Track productivity
One of the most difficult things to track and improve is the productivity of remote teams. For the team to achieve their goals, you need to ensure that all the short-term goals are being completed on time successfully. There are lots of online resources that you can use to track your team’s productivity.
4. Working from different locations and time zones
One of the advantages of working remotely is that it allows business managers to hire talent from any part of the world. The challenge with this is teams will be operating in different time zones. And this can affect other important business aspects like communication, productivity, and performance. You need to know your team’s schedule to help members boost their productivity.
5. Language and culture
A remote team that works from different parts of the world is likely to have different cultures and languages. If nothing is connecting you to your team, they’ll get confused and destroy your projects. Once you understand the cultural differences of your team, you’ll easily manage your team.
6. Building trust
Trust issues will eventually arise within your team. This is understandable because most team members have never met each other face to face. You need to encourage your team members to communicate with each other as much as possible to promote transparency and build trust. You can also build trust by avoiding micromanaging your team.
Distractions are the number one killer of productivity and performance of remote team members. This is because most virtual team members have conditioned their minds to associate home with leisure, fun, and rest. However, you need to encourage your team to eliminate distractions before they start their workday. Encourage them to turn off the television and notifications on their computer and inform their loved ones about their plans to avoid being interrupted.
8. Staying motivated
Staying motivated as you work remotely is one of the hardest things that most remote team members face. Without colleagues and supervisors, it’s easy to postpone important or urgent tasks. Plus, it’s so stressful working alone all day. You can motivate your remote team members by praising and rewarding them, setting realistic deadlines, and communicating with them regularly.
9. Using the best technology
This is a huge challenge that most remote teams face every day. Today, newer technologies are emerging to develop and improve communication, boost productivity and performance in the long run. Virtual teams that don’t keep up are usually left behind. Managers should look at their competitors and identify the best tools for the job.
There’ll always be a scramble for the best talent in the marketplace. Every manager needs to hire and work with skillful workers to boost their productivity and performance. It takes time to find and hire a good remote worker. Plus, there are no guarantees that they will stick with the organization in the long run.
11. Managing expectations of customers
Customer expectations will always change with time. This makes it difficult for virtual teams to fulfill all their customers’ desires. Businesses need to adapt to the current changes to provide customers with an amazing experience.
Training virtual teams is a huge problem for enterprises that are expanding and evolving rapidly. Remote team managers need to use the best tools in the market and ensure that all teams know how to use them. They need to focus on their strengths, weaknesses, and levels of commitment of all their team members.
Basic principles that boost the performance of virtual teams
Since virtual teams are an important part of modern businesses, what does it take for them to operate at peak levels? Now that you understand the problems that face virtual teams, it’s time to discuss the principles that you can use to ensure the success of your remote team. Let’s get started!
1. Get the team to meet physically as early as possible
It might seem opposite to talk about meeting face to face on virtual teams. However, face-to-face interactions are way better than any virtual mode of communication especially when it comes to building relationships, trust, and laying a solid foundation for the team to work effectively. If it’s not possible, the world won’t end.
However, if you can get your team together, you need to use that time to help team members get to know each other personally and professionally while creating a shared vision and setting guiding principles for the operation of the team. Schedule a physical meeting as early as possible and reconnect as much as possible.
2. Clarify processes and tasks, not just roles and goals
Every leader needs to align their team with the existing roles, goals, and responsibilities within the first ninety days. When it comes to virtual teams, coordination tends to be a challenge because people are not located in one area. Therefore, it’s important to focus on the task design details and the processes that you’ll use to complete them.
Simplify tasks to the greatest possible extent and assign tasks to team members. Make sure that the work process is clear together with the specifics about which team member does what. Do periodic reviews to evaluate productivity and performance and identify processes that need adjustment training.
3. Communication charter is key
In most cases, communication on virtual teams happens less frequently and is less effective than face-to-face interaction. The best way to avoid pitfalls when it comes to communication is to be disciplined and clear about how teams communicate.
Creating a charter that establishes behavior norms when participating in virtual meetings like limiting side conversations, background noise, listening attentively, talking at a normal pace and allowing the other to dominate conversations, and much more. The charter should include the modes of communication to be used and the circumstances.
4. Use the best communication technologies
Virtual teaming has been made easier thanks to the development of collaborative technologies. However, choosing the best technology doesn’t mean going with the newest feature. You don’t have to sacrifice reliability to get the latest technology. If your team has to struggle to communicate with each other or waste time collaborating, then you should do away with the technology. You should also be ready to sacrifice features to have everyone on the same page. Otherwise, you’ll end up undermining productivity.
5. Build a rhythmic team
When team members are working separately, it’s easy for them to disconnect from the normal work-life routine. One effective solution is to create rhythms gradually and consistently. For instance, this means having meetings regularly and sharing the agenda of the meeting in advance, having clear communication protocols, and starting and completing on time. If some team members are in different time zones, don’t place a burden on all team members. Rotate meeting times regularly to spread the load evenly.
6. A shared language is key
Virtual teams with members in different locations in the world tend to have different cultures. And this can lead to communication challenges especially when members think that they are communicating using one language but they aren’t. As a business leader, you need to sustain a shared understanding across different cultures.
When teamwork is technical, engineering and science languages usually provide a strong foundation for communicating effectively. However, when teams work on ambiguous tasks, diverging interpretations can negatively affect them. Take time to negotiate agreements on the interpretation of phrases and words.
7. Allow informal interactions
Informal interactions help in reinforcing social bonds. Lack of explicit efforts to reinforce social bonds can make the team extremely task-oriented. This means that important info will not be shared and this will weaken team cohesion. To avoid this, you need to check in on all team members before you start your meeting. Allow your colleagues to share what they’re doing, what’s working, and the challenges they are facing. Regular team-building exercises can help in injecting fun into the team. Collaboration platforms and social media can help teams connect.
8. Clarify commitments and track them
When a team works together, it’s quite difficult to clarify and track commitments because there is no simple way to track productivity and engagement. You can address this by designing tasks carefully and having regular meetings. This will help in getting your team to commit to specific milestones. Creating a delivery dashboard will make it easier for managers to track the performance of their teams without micromanaging them. Remember, there is a thin line between tracking performance and being overbearing.
9. Foster leadership
Defining expectations and tracking performances help in keeping team members productive and focused on long-term goals. Look for ways to involve team members in leadership. These include identifying best practices and sharing them, assigning responsibility, or giving some team members an opportunity to coach others. When you foster leadership, you’ll not only take the burden off but also boost engagement levels.
Since virtual team members are treated differently, not all of them will get the same social support levels. And this can lead to dislike and distrust. Negative thoughts and emotions contribute to poor empathy levels towards specific team members. This will make others critical, overbearing, and immune to the feelings of others.
11. Timely responses
Working remotely allows you to create your schedule depending on your circumstances. However, some team members misinterpret this and end up being unavailable when the entire team is working online. Slow or no response is one of the biggest challenges facing most teams today. Leaders need to remind their teams that flexibility requires structure too. As long as tasks are completed on time, you can organize your schedule however you want. If your team depends on you to complete their tasks, you’ll need to agree on a specific time to avoid inconveniences in the long run.
12. Prevent burnout
Working too hard without taking regular breaks can lead to fatigue and burnout. And they can negatively affect your productivity and performance. Remember, rest is just as important as working. Don’t be in a hurry to complete your job. Take your time and include regular breaks during the day to improve your physical and mental health.
Considering the challenges you are facing regarding your virtual team select tip(s) to boost your team’s productivity and performance.