Challenges of Virtual Teams

Challenges of Virtual Teams
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  • 0:03 The Virtual Challenge
  • 0:56 Working Through Challenges
  • 1:29 Communication
  • 3:24 Utilize Technology
  • 4:23 Increase Face Time
  • 5:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Allison Tanner
Working on a virtual team can be challenging. Team members may be located in different time zones or have different expectations on how to complete an assigned project. This lesson discusses the challenges facing a virtual team and offers techniques for overcoming those challenges.

The Virtual Challenge

You have worked hard to prove your skills at teamwork and collaboration to your boss during the past year. It has finally paid off, and you get assigned to work on the business expansion project. Ecstatic, you say 'yes' without asking many questions.

You quickly discover that this team project is completely virtual. Working on a virtual team means that all communication is done via technology. You and your team will write the business plan without ever meeting one another in person.

This sounds easy at first, but then you realize that there are several challenges you will have to overcome:

  • You have team members in different time zones
  • Different schedules
  • Different expectations of the project
  • It is more challenging to delegate tasks
  • You struggle to share the project and make edits

So, how can you muddle through all of these challenges and create the most effective business plan?

Working Through Challenges

As you prepare for your first team meeting, you send out an email and suggest that everyone meet at 10:00 AM Eastern Time. This is a great time for you! It's after your morning meeting and just before lunch. You can readily dedicate two whole hours to getting this project started.

Unfortunately, only one person responds to your email. They let you know that 10:00 AM eastern time is 7:00 AM pacific time and they're located in California. This time won't work, so they will have to catch the next meeting.

Frustrated, you begin to analyze the core problem.

Communication

After a few minutes of thinking, it comes to you! Yes, of course! You should communicate with your team to find out what times might be best for them. You also suggest setting up an agenda. Since everyone has busy schedules, you want the project to be as manageable as possible. In order to better understand the complexity of working in a virtual team, you begin to look up some tips. After a quick online search, you find a great list to discuss the importance of good communication and list some ideas for helping your virtual team overcome differences and delegate tasks.

You learn that in a virtual team it is important to:

  • Clarify expectations and determine individual tasks.
  • Set goals and schedule a timeline.
  • Find out when everyone is available to meet.
  • Make the goals of the project clear.
  • Make the goals and objectives of every meeting clear.
  • Make time-zones clear. Not everyone will be in the same time-zone. Discuss what times are good to meet.
  • Assure everyone that you are willing to be flexible. Maybe you rotate the meeting time so that everyone takes a turn with the crummy time.
  • After each meeting, make sure someone is in charge of summarizing the discussion and sending it to the whole team.

Use the best communication skills you have and be flexible to ensure that everyone is on the same page. You want the goals and objectives to be clear. You also want to be sure that everyone has clearly communicated their expectations, their availability, and their ability to contribute to this project.

After going through this list, you decide that you need to make things easier for the team. You send out another email and ask when everyone is available. You encourage them to give as many times as possible so that you can all figure out a shared time. You also send them the great tips you found for working in a virtual team.

This time, everyone responds! They are all excited about working on the team, and they appreciate your feedback!

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