Tips for Building Productive Virtual Teams

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  • 0:04 Building a Virtual Team
  • 1:27 Highly Productive…
  • 3:35 Productive Collaboration
  • 4:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

Virtual teams are trending in the business world. While just assembling a group of people does not always yield high productivity, implementing the right strategies may help to build a dynamic virtual team.

Building A Virtual Team

Let's face it. Grouping a bunch of people together and tossing them a pigskin doesn't make them a football team. And the same idea applies to virtual teams. Building a virtual team takes effort. A virtual team is a group of employees who work remotely but together on projects. The team is made up of people who share the goals, tasks, and responsibilities of the project.

So, just how does one go about selecting the right people? First, it should be understood that not everyone wants to work from his or her home. In fact, many employees simply like the structure of a traditional workday. Conversely, just because an employee wants to work in his or her pajamas, doesn't make that person a candidate for membership on a virtual team. It really is a matter of finding the right people for the job.

You will want to look for people who have successfully worked remotely in the past. Choose employees who value working from home or need to work from home. And, select mature candidates who are goal-oriented and responsible.

An employee who has worked at home in the past probably has an intense level of self-discipline. Those who enjoy the freedom of working at home will see a value in it and appreciate the autonomy. Goal-oriented employees who understand and embrace the virtual team culture can handle having little to no supervision. Once you choose the team, grooming the members for high productivity is next.

Highly Productive Virtual Teams

With the right people in place, the virtual team is destined for great things. Well, not so fast! There are several things you will need to do first.

At the beginning, you will want to define the company's culture in terms of honesty, teamwork, and respect. Working on a virtual team can be an isolating experience. Extending the culture beyond the corporate walls will make the team members feel like they are a more integral part of the organization.

If possible, have the team meet face-to-face. If this is not possible, set up a virtual meeting via webcam and microphone. It's important to remember that virtual teams do not share body language like on-ground employees. A virtual introduction will help the team members get to know one another, putting faces with names.

Next, you will work to foster a culture of trust. For remote employees, touching base on the progress of a project is not as easy as walking to another team member's cubicle. The virtual team members need to know that they can rely on one another from a distance. You can help team members build their levels of trust by encouraging them to answer emails on time, follow up on questions, and meet deadlines. In other words, each team member must remain true to his or her word.

You will also want to communicate effectively, and with today's technology, it is easy. There are Internet-based software programs that allow one to communicate through a webcam. Team members can schedule meetings to discuss progress, issues, and even iron out conflicts.

We discussed virtual meetings in terms of building trust. They have another benefit. Speaking to someone over a webcam adds animation. Team members get to know one another on a deeper level, which deepens the level of communication. During team meetings, make it a habit of allowing each member to speak.

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