The concept of virtual teams in organizational settings is continuing to develop as technological advancements and solutions become available. Virtual teams allow groups of individuals separated by distance who work on interdependent task execution mostly through technology platforms (Falls, 2017). While this is one of the major benefits of virtual teams, there are additional advantages and disadvantages to consider for successful outcomes.
A successful virtual workforce with effective team management has its advantages. As Osman (2016) pointed out, researchers supporting the use of virtual teams state these units offer greater accessibility to global talent, higher productivity, flexibility, and employee opportunities. Organizations that implement virtual teams into their infrastructure benefit by lowering overhead expenses, improving scalability, and offering a full suite of services (MaRS, 2015).
While the implementation of virtual work teams has many organizational benefits, it has also received mixed reviews from researchers and organizational leaders. According to Knupple (2015), one reason for the disparaging criticism was virtual workforce management practices lacked the rigor needed for these work units to be effective. Other researchers suggest high costs for communication technology; conflict, lack of trust and collaboration; and social isolation also contribute to virtual team inefficiency (ConnectUs, 2015).
Overall, the advantages of virtual teams outweigh the disadvantages when effective strategies are established and applied. To ensure your virtual team management approach is sound, Johnson (2017) and EDC recommend using the following five strategies:
- Develop ‘house rules’ for communication and commit to them.
- Use communication tools that account for and help manage time differences.
- Encourage knowledge sharing to promote openness and trust.
- Invest in technology-based tools to facilitate communication and collaboration.
- Implement opportunities for making personal connections via phone or video conferencing whenever feasible.
Is your organization reaping the benefits of virtual teams? If not, EDC can help! Contact us today to find out how!
ConnectUs Fund. (2015). The disadvantages and advantages of virtual teams. Retrieved from http://connectusfund.org/disadvantages-and-advantages-of-virtual-teams
Falls, B. (2017, March 24). Leading virtual teams. Retrieved from http://talentscience.org/blog/2017/3/24/leading-virtual-teams
Johnson, M. (2017, February 13). Five tips for connected, collaborative virtual teams. Retrieved from https://www.8×8.com/blog/2017/02/five-tips-for-connected-collaborative-virtual-teams
Knupple, B. (2015, December 4). Virtual teams are growing faster than managers can learn to lead them. Retrieved from https://www.ceo.com/operations/virtual-teams-are-growing-faster-than-managers-can-learn-to-lead-them/
MaRs Library. (2015, March 13). Virtual teams: Benefits and disadvantages. Retrieved from https://www.marsdd.com/mars-library/virtual-teams-benefits-and-disadvantages/
Osman, H. (2016, February 4). Virtual teams pros and cons: All you need to know. Retrieved from http://www.thecouchmanager.com/virtual-teams-pros-and-cons/
Savelyeva, N. (2015). Bring it all together: How to better manage a virtual team. Retrieved from https://www.getapp.com/blog/how-to-manage-virtual-teams-productivity-tracker/