What are virtual teams?
-Virtual teams is a group of individuals who participate in regular projects by making cooperative efforts, and for the purpose of achieving shared goals and objectives. They accomplish a task and jobs in a virtual work environment maintained and created by the means of software technologies and IT.
The term also refers to teleworking teams. Virtual team management is the starting point for managing virtual teamwork.
Types of virtual team
There are two types of virtual teams:
1) Global Virtual Team
The members of this team are located in different countries and cities around the world. They can be employees of a certain company which join their efforts and resources in order to perform common outsourced projects and achieve common goals.
2) Local Virtual Team
Members usually belong to the same company (can either be big or small) and that certain company has enough resources (technology is essential) to initiate and maintain virtual team working and organize its employees into a productive
Reasons for creating virtual teams.
• Virtual teams are the line of actions for companies that are searching for the expertise and the right talent.
• Virtual teams can save organizations from the cost and difficulty of setting up additional foundation in locations where they want a presence.
• As political scenarios change, new policy changes and visa regulations come into play. Because of that, hiring or moving talent across countries can be challenging. Virtual teams save companies from such hassle.
• The reliability factor is higher compared direct outsourcing approach where the deliverable’s quality and employee’s performance tracking cannot be controlled directly by the organization.
• Virtual employees are on your company payroll for a short-term, predefined period but they are dedicated to working only on your projects. They are not like freelancers on multiple projects.
Technology and access to global talent plays an important role in making this a sustainable phenomenon of having offshore employees. It is turning out to be the most excellent manner in which ‘remote working’ can be utilized by having a specific resource pool of your own. Here is some information on how technology is making it possible to manage virtual teams.
Managers nowadays facing the challenge to develop strategically flexible organizations in retaliation to increasingly competitive marketplaces. Fortunately, a new generation of information and telecommunications technology provides the basis for resilient new organizational forms that would have not been sensible only a decade ago. One of the most exciting of these new forms, the virtual team, will allow organizations to become more flexible by providing the impressive productivity of team-based designs in environments where teamwork would have once been impossible.
Virtual teams, provide a potent response to the challenges associated with today’s downsized and lean organizations, and to the resulting geographical dispersion of essential employees. They also address new workforce demographics, where the best employees may be located anywhere around the world, and where workers request increasing technological experience and personal flexibility. With virtual teams, organizations can build teams with optimum membership while retaining the advantages of flat organizational structure. In addition, firms benefit from virtual teams through access to previously unavailable expertise, enhanced cross-functional interaction, and the use of systems that improve the quality of the virtual team’s work.
What works well for a Virtual team?
• Employees are looking for flexibility and empowerment today. They want to contribute to organisations that can provide them with these two elements. As virtual employees they are able to obtain both these aspects.
• Virtual employees do not have to face the hassle of travelling to a new location or transition related changes. They can deliver the results form anywhere they are located.
• Finding the correct jobs based on expertise area is made easier for the virtual employees when there are organisations who are available to hire for such offshore roles. It also gives them more stability compared to being in freelance roles where they are trying to juggle multiple projects which are extremely short term in nature.
Studies from the past few years,(starting with one in 2009, which was a study of 80 global software teams, done by BCG and WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management) have proved that well managed, widely-spread, virtual teams have been outperforming those that share office space. Another report was made by Aon stated that using virtual teams can improve employee productivity upto 43%.
Virtual Team Management includes the following:
Assembling. Probation periods are the first measurements to be applied when starting with remote teamwork organization. The team leader should make a decision on those people who had met all the requirements of probation periods.
Training. During this process, the team leader sets expectations as to future virtual teaming and then develops and applies a group training methodology to educate team members how to meet the expectations.
Managing. This is the process of using telecommunication technologies to manage ongoing tasks and jobs of remote group members.
Controlling. The team leader initiate performance measures to assess and judge the performance of the team. This person needs to investigate whether the team is on the course and able to achieve project goals on time.
Advantages of virtual team
• Lower rents and technology savings
• Reduced transportation costs and less time spent on commuting
• Instant communication and information exchange
Disadvantages of virtual team
• Poorer control of virtual groups which may result in reduced trust in virtual teams, because there are no direct control tools.
• Problems to establish good virtual team leadership(comparing to “physical” team leading)
• Unfitness to the projects which require on-site control and management
Benefit of virtual team on our planet
• Less air pollution
When team members are able to do their work at home, they decrease their impact on air and auto traffic. This, of course strengthens the argument for telecommuting.
• A vehicle for activism
There are evidence that proofs a critical percentage of world citizens is now committed to ecological sustainability and social justice. If it is true that we have crossed some kind of threshold, then our collective work on behalf of the planet is no longer about “waking up,” “prepare for the transition,” or “trying to get others to wake up.” Most people who are educated know and agree that the planet is in trouble. The work now is to get something done, on a very large scale. Virtual teamwork has the potential to give every person on earth a chance to participate actively in creating a more ecologically sustainable future.
We now know, based on the statistics and our understanding, that virtual teams are possibly a huge business impact and are showing a stable growth in the business context. Employees, as well as organizations are choosing to become a part of virtual teams since it suits their requirements. Such a fitment of requirements is quite difficult to find with any other form of work arrangement as this stage.