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Virtual Teams: Definition and Role

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The virtual team refers to a group of people who comes in contact through communication technology from different geographical locations. The channels of communication technology used are email, FAX, video conferencing, etc. the major purpose of collaboration with a virtual team is to achieve the common goal. The team is geographically dispersed which use a different set of knowledge and skills to coordinate them and achieve higher goals. To get the advantage of diversified or dispersed skill set companies to prefer to build virtual teams or remote groups, it provides competitive advantage and areas to develop and diversify the overall business. Integration of information technology in the business processes also provides development advantage to the company.

Characteristics of successful teams are as follows:

Strong and dedicated Team Leader: Virtual teams never meet each other to discuss anything about the task or project undertaken. Thus, to build a strong team a leader has to be strong and dedicated to build trust and good rapport between members of the company and focus on good relationship building, develop emotional intelligence and high communication skills. The leader will keep the track record of productivity of the team and try to improve it.

Open culture and trust: Trust is the basic foundation of any successful relationship, all the team members respect the cultural differences among them and maintain the cordial relationship by removing miscommunication. Trust and open culture can be formulated through the integration of actions, exceptional competence, a commitment between members and working norms.  

Meaningful communication: Successful teams understands the significance of meaningful communication in the effectiveness and productivity of the team. They follow proper standards of communication, working tone used to convey the message and how to be more keen about the emotional content in the message.

Positive attitude towards work: The positive attitude towards work provides the guarantee of success. Members of a team will be willing to work and adapt the change to solve the problem immediately whenever it arises.

Better conflict management system: conflicts between the team arise because of miscommunication and to resolve them appropriately is the big challenge for the team leader but it is also essential for better understanding. Virtual teams avoid unnecessary confrontations and solve the conflicts in a proper mechanism within a short time period.

High executive support: The high executive support develops good social relationships among members of the virtual team and makes the team more empowered. They feel encouraged to work collaboratively to reach the common goal.

Proper organization: The well-structured team has high-performance rate because members of the team feel self-motivated, self-reliant, think independently and work effectively. The proper organization of the team members shows the potential of moving forward and higher achievement.

Determined to achieve goals: every team member understands that they are working together to achieve a common goal. Thus, they devote their time, efforts and all the resources to collaborate with other members of the team to contribute to the achievement of the overall goal.

Rely on information: successful teams integrate the technology for transmitting the information more fastly, reliably and smoothly. The technology used by virtual teams includes emails, telephone calls, video conferencing, etc.

Attentiveness: effective communication is possible if the parties to the communication are attentive during the process of communication. The non-verbal communication along with verbal plays an important role in effective communication. A leader must encourage the involvement of all the members of the team and cordial relations between them.  

Challenges faced by the team: The major challenges faced by the virtual team are as follows:

  • Misunderstanding in the team due to poor communication model.
  • Incompatibility of communication model preferred.
  • The difference in the work ethics of team members.
  • Lack of clarity and direction to the team members.
  • Deficient sense of ownership and commitment of members towards overall goals.
  • Members of virtual teams are unable to ask questions from each other.
  • It is difficult to delegate the authority and responsibility in a virtual team.
  • In competencies of team members could not be known.
  • Skills of members and needs of the team may mismatch.
  • The productivity may get diminished due to lack of performance by one member.
  • Lack of empathy and personal connection among members of the team.
  • Distrust and suspicion cause conflicts and reduce productivity.
  • In the case of virtual teams, the lower morale and team spirit cannot be revived.
  • The difference in the time zone of the members may lead to the problem of coordination and create more conflicts between members.

Lack of work-life balance of members of the team will reduce the productivity and wastages of resources

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