7 Challenges Virtual Teams Face (And How To Tackle Them)

Thanks to remote work, virtual teams have been a growing trend for a while now. Large corporations, small businesses, or startups all have some kind of a remote team. Still, managing such teams isn’t as easy as it sounds. Team members and managers frequently face challenges regarding some of the most important employee aspects, such as communication, productivity, and engagement.

If you have a virtual team to manage yourself, here are the most common challenges you may face and how to handle them like a pro.

Cultural and Language Barriers

Chances are your workforce is multigenerational and diverse. As much as having such a staff can be beneficial for the business, it’s can be a big challenge too. Cultural and language differences can get in the way of employees’ interaction. When employees can’t communicate well and understand each other, misunderstandings can easily happen. To overcome this obstacle, you should do whatever you can to bring the staff closer.

They may not know each other well. For this reason, you can give them a chance to spend time together and get to know each other. The best way to bring them close is through the collaboration of projects. Working together shouldn’t pose a problem for your remote work team. The intranet fully supports employee collaboration regardless of their location.

Ineffective Communication

Although virtual teams communicate more than the in-office ones, it doesn’t necessarily mean their communication is good. Vital parts of any communication are gestures, body language, and eye contact. They help not only deliver but also receive messages effectively. When communication is virtual, like in this case, there are no visual cues to make the interaction easier. Given that business communication is essential for any organization, virtual teams have to find a way to overcome this challenge. For more det

The easiest way to make communication more effective is by using video conferences regularly. Video conferencing allows employees to see their colleagues in real-time, even on the screen. It helps preserve some sense of normalcy as well as non-verbal cues.

Absence of Structure

Remote workers usually lack structure and feel out of place in the organization. Having such feelings prevent them from performing well and contributing to organizational objectives. As a manager, you can help them by imposing a stable structure. Keeping all aspects organized is a good starting point. In particular, prescheduling meetings, adopting remote work policies and regulations, etc.  These simple but organized steps can give them the structure they need to stay focused and productive. Also, they can serve to unite the remote staff and strengthen their team spirit.

Low Productivity

When employees work from home, they can easily lose focus because of the distractions surrounding them. To produce their best work, they have to be especially disciplined and organized. Managers are usually untrustworthy only because they want to see the job get done on time. If you want to improve the productivity of your team, investing in tracking activity software seems like a good idea.

The software measures activity on employees’ computers, which gives managers insight into their productivity. Nonetheless, employees may refuse to use such obtrusive software. If that happens to be the case, assure them you are following all policies to avoid any breach of privacy.

Trust Issues

Virtual teams create distrust. Team members don’t share workspace and they rarely work together at the same time. Whether only one part of the team or the whole teamwork from home, it doesn’t matter. Trust becomes a problem at some point. You can do a few things that will build trust among team members. For starters, be transparent when assigning tasks and individual responsibilities.

Make sure everyone knows what their role is in the team. Then, don’t forget to provide constant feedback to the employees. It’s also important to celebrate group or individual achievements. Besides, studies suggest that supportive managers build trust with employees easier and increase their engagement in the work environment. Therefore, always be supportive of your staff.

Lack of Team Spirit

Because there’s no office to unite them, remote teams feel no more than just a group of individuals working for the same company. No wonder virtual teams lack team spirit in most cases. As their leader, you can connect every team member to the company’s mission. They do have their individual goals, but it’s your responsibility to tie them with the general corporate objectives.

Moreover, team spirit can’t be built overnight. It takes constant interaction and collaboration among the staff to grow together as a team. Furthermore, whenever you finish a project, share thoughts on everything accomplished, and draw some useful conclusions as a team. This activity won’t only improve your performance but also bring you closer.

Low Social Interaction

Employees like to socialize at work by the water cooler, in the common rooms, or during the breaks. However, remote teams don’t have such opportunities for socialization. They miss out on the fun and casual banter around the workplace. To enhance their social interaction, you can give them a space of their own where they can casually chat and blow off some steam during the day.

Also, before or after the meetings, leave a couple of minutes to chat with them. Ask them about their weekends, plans, hobbies. Through informal chit chat, you can get to know each other and maintain healthy work relationships.

On the whole, virtual teams have become a part of the new normal all around the world. For this reason, managers should make themselves familiar with the potential challenges that come with managing remote teams. This guide shows not only what obstacles they might face but also how to overcome them. Hence, they are fully prepared to successfully manage virtual teams.

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