Managing a virtual workforce is not a walk in the park; it requires a lot of time and effort to overcome challenges and be invested for everyone to succeed.
Without the buy-in of the employees, your virtual team is preparing for failure. Virtual team managers or supervisors live in constant worry about the productivity of the remote workforce.
Although that is true, shifting to remote working is a trend that you cannot overlook. You just have to realize the stumbling blocks to know how to remove them. There are quite a lot of challenges facing virtual teams but here are 10 most common ones.
The majority of virtual teams complain about poor communication being at the epicenter of their challenges. When employers do not contact employees for longer periods of time, they might feel isolated. To avoid those results, an employer should ensure that they communicate with their remote employees more often.
To further resolve this problem, team leaders should implement effective team collaboration channels like Microsoft Teams and other alternatives. All of these aspects can improve the team's productivity and lead it to successful operations for years. Also, arrange team meetings once in a while to touch base on problems the remote workers are facing.
It’s important that even during remote work you share a feeling of being a team that’s working on common goals and has a common mission. The office environment where people sit together, laugh, chit chat and have coffee breaks together cannot be created in virtual set-up but the gap can still be filled with some creative ideas.
The video sessions don’t necessarily have to be about formal discussions or company meetings only. You can set aside a time, once or twice a week, where the entire team discusses general things like their family, pets, life during work from home, and anything else they want to share.
Lack of organizational structure
Lack of organizational structure can lead to reduced productivity of the virtual team. Team leaders need to let remote employees know the managerial structure in place within the company. That will allow remote workers to know who to report and defer questions to when their primary team leader is absent or sick.
Also, an organizational structure will indicate where the remote workers are in the company hierarchy. Subsequently, when the employees see they are part of something bigger, increased productivity will be manifested by employees. When the organizational structure is vague, some employees might even have the perspective that it is a scam or illegitimate business.
Inaccessibility of adequate tools
Employees need tools to get the job done and that is regardless of the industry they are in. Team leaders managing virtual marketing teams need adequate tools to help in researching and implementing strategies that will work for the business.
When forming a B2B sales team, the business should equip the remote workforce with everything they need. Keep in mind that as a business, you are eligible for discounts that individuals cannot get.
Buying the licensing of software that will be used by the remote workforce will be regained through the productivity enabled by having the right working tools.
Provide them guidance and support to use assignment help online from professional writing services for PPTs and other business papers. If they study part-time or have full-time student trainees, outsourcing writing work that includes research paper writing service or thesis or dissertation holds great importance. Providing access to the best software and outsourcing services is a great morale booster.
Lack of office culture
Lack of office culture is one of the most popular challenges facing virtual teams. Remote workers may not have the same work ethic as other employees working in an office environment. The results of lacking office culture are unproductiveness and a decline in employee morale.
To ensure that this does not happen, supervisors and managers encourage employees to dedicate a home office.
The home office is where remote workers should have no distractions and preferably have a desk and chair. Although there is no sure-fire method of ensuring that remote workers follow office culture, offering reminders regularly is the best method.
Time Zone differences
Sometimes the virtual team you are managing might be from different countries and continents. That poses new challenges to the remote workforce because different countries and continents translated to misaligned work hours. Employees can’t log in and clock out at the same time but some team leaders found a solution to this problem.
They have developed subgroups with remote workers of the same continent or time zone to work together on projects. These employees have meetings at convenient times for them and that solves the time zone difference. Others have reduced the need for virtual meetings and team collaboration and managed each employee individually.
Real-time data and its ready availability help greatly in such situations. Data accessibility without any time barrier is the key to making best decisions in terms of sales, future plans, etc, so ensure that employees have full access to it.
Loss of team spirit
This would be one of the biggest challenges a leader could have. It was there in the real offices and it is there in the virtual setups. The lack of team spirit in a virtual environment is more prevalent than the real offices as employees are experiencing a phenomenon that is still evolving and will take time to get them fully climatized.
As time goes on, the virtual team might lose its morale because of a variety of reasons. One of those reasons includes the routine they follow every day might become boring for them. Once employees lose interest like that, the productivity will be impacted exponentially.
To keep the virtual team morale sky-high, managers and supervisors should always try something new. For example, they might have prizes for the best remote worker of the month and so forth. Keeping the virtual team on their toes in this way can lead to consistent positive morale from employees. You can try innovative and creative ways to get that team spirit. For example, you could try (virtual) escape rooms as a team building activity to boost efficiency.
Losing trust in the company
When team members do not put in the same work ethic, others might start believing that the leader is lenient on certain employees. That lack of trust will lead to reduced productivity and disgruntled employees. Team leaders need to ensure that they do not portray an image of being biased towards one employee.
It implies that everyone should log in at the same time and get the same amount of work to gain the trust of all remote workers. Alternatively, team leaders can create a transparent workflow so everyone knows what others contribute to the team. The remote workers will have more trust in the company and team leaders in that way.
Some employees may have expectations before joining the team, especially about their future role and the growth of the company. If a team leader misleads or says a statement that might be misrepresented by the employer when on-boarding the remote worker, there will be some problems later on.
For example, if a team leader tries to portray the company as a large business more than it actually is, the employee might start being less productive. Alternatively, if the remote worker is promised a better role or remuneration in the virtual team, there might be unrest when that does not happen.
Lack of face to face interaction
When employees see nothing but avatars on the screen, they might be skeptical about the authenticity of the company they are working for. To prevent this from happening, leaders should schedule meetings regularly for the team to meet each other and discuss the progress of the project.
When there are big company meetings, the team leaders should arrange video conferencing services for the remote workforce to meet other employees face to face. Doing so will ensure that remote workers feel like they are part of something bigger, subsequently boosting their productivity and full engagement.
Not working towards the same goal
In a lot of cases of unsuccessful virtual teams, the cause is that the team members are not working towards the same goal. That applies especially to projects that require a lot of collaboration to succeed. For example, a visual and graphics expert might not align their design with the copy written by the copywriter.
Team leaders that find themselves in these situations may need to reschedule the deadline or spend more money than budgeted for. All of these problems can be easily fixed by setting the stage for open and transparent communication. When each team member is working on a certain aspect, they must update one another until it reaches completion.
Greatest Challenges of Virtual Teams and Overcoming it
Running a virtual team requires more effort and planning because it operates on different principles. Communication, trust, and transparent workflow should be the key principles of a remote workforce. Without these key elements, the productivity will lack and the team might face some workflow problems. Also, team leaders should not forget to encourage remote employees to try and invest in a home office to increase productivity and work ethic.
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