Around two decades ago, people who sit together in one location and work is considered a team, but now thanks to the internet/intranet era that brought about video conferencing, global teams work together easily across the world. Differences in time zone, languages and culture: these don’t really matter anymore!
Geographically dispersed team help to increase efficiency, cost savings and gives us the ability to choose team members with the best skills, regardless of their location. But that also comes with challenges like fair treatment to all, prevent feeling of isolation to some and to get all members to focus on team objectives, no matter the differences.
We can go ahead and discuss the pros and cons with regard to global perspective with many points of view and bridging the differences but also the relationship between demographic diversity and team performance, has not been clearly proved. What matters in the current market is to increase the team’s productivity by relevant techniques and in the process deal with the challenges that comes along with them.
To increase smooth and efficient working teams, it is essential to choose the right team players ( self motivated, good communication skills ,result driven and honest) and ensure that strong communication technologies are employed. This is where we see the significance of technology which bridges the challenges and helps smooth flow as well.
Does use of communication technologies wisely, help combat the challenges that arise?
In today’s communication era, there is no need to emphasize that the virtual/ global teams’ success or failure depends on the use of communication technologies in the right way. That’s when the new terminology used “Netiquette” comes in, which is utilizing the communication techniques responsibly and respectfully.
Netiquette Standards are abundant, but a few simple ones, when used, can help avoid pitfalls and combat other issues that arise as well. For example: email etiquettes, use of databases in the acceptable way for mass mails etc. One of the complicated issues is to implement proprietary rights and information essentials. Use of virtual white boards, chat rooms, and bulletin boards, in which proper language and abbreviations known globally should be enabled which avoids confusions and misunderstandings.
Some tools used in the current business: MS SharePoint, Google Docs, Skype, MS Net Meeting, Online calendar sharing (Google Calendar), scheduling (Tungle), task management (ToodleDo) are all functions available for little cost yet provide high value to the project.
The use of virtual communication in the right way and contributing meaningfully will reflect on individual skills and more strategy and opportunity would become available to them, so it is useful for personal career growth as well. Maintaining a professional attitude in all arenas of communication, behaviour and team work becomes the essentials for success.
The role of the Leader does not change when working with virtual teams. Only the tools that they use have changed and evolved. It is still vital for management to know who is doing what, when, how long it takes and the cost impact on the project. Whether working on collaborative platforms or bringing together the needed components from various experts, these tools allow the leader to work with the virtual team as effectively as if they were all local resources, sitting in one room.
Cheers to the technology breakthroughs that make this possible and successful!
Here is the bonus for those who are aspiring to work remotely yet skeptical about its benefits, challenges or adoption. The findings below could help to you decide how should you draw your future roadmap while working remotely.