The remote work team is now the trend of the future. With companies looking to become more cost effective and productive, more workers will be operating away from the office in virtual work and project teams. This means one thing: people to learn how to work together across boundaries of space, time, and indeed cultures. CEOS who want to leverage expertise located in different parts of the organisation are increasingly reliant on geographically dispersed virtual teams to plan, make decisions, and take action on critical business issues. But what are the challenges that need to be overcome?
The team at Wilson Learning Worldwide says managers need to build trust and rapport with everyone in different locations. “To build a sense of trust, virtual teams need opportunities to develop social rapport, especially in the early stages of the team's work. Creating time for team members to identify common values, establish credibility, and foster a sense of trust is critical for virtual teams. For example, we have seen virtual teams engage in online games together as a way to establish relationships and occasionally hold meetings in "immersive" virtual environments such as Second Life, as a way to establish and build trust. The use of social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can also be useful to help team members become familiar with one another in a way that fosters trust and confidence.”
They say it’s also crucial to build a strong sense of identity connecting people in different locations. It’s all about creating a sense of "team-ness" based on a strong belief in a shared purpose, common inspiration, and commitment to the team's goals. It’s also important to have state of the art communications technology, processes for tasks such as setting goals, making plans and solving problems. Companies need to assign specific work roles, and measure results to help the team function efficiently and effectively. There also has to be some training to ensure team members have social and communication skills and problem solving skills. It’s important to have processes in place to help team members make group decisions. And finally, there has to be some sort of global awareness to ensure that team members can work productively and cohesively across cultural boundaries.
The people at the Mind Tools site say it’s important to have the right people. Remote teams don’t suit everyone. People working in remote teams need to be self-motivated, results-driven and have top-notch communications as they will be in situations where there will be limited, or no, face-to-face contact, They also need to be open and honest. Because managers and CEOs can’t watch over remote team members, they have to rely on them to come to you with problems, suggestions, and other feedback. It’s also important to develop strong team dynamics. One way to do this is to create team bonding with an intranet team page that includes a forum for suggestions or ideas on particular projects, and photographs of team members. They can set up a virtual team room that’s the virtual equivalent of an office coffee break area where workers could share more personal information and finally, they need webcams (a very inexpensive way to see other team members during phone calls and Skype conversations).
How do you manage remote teams?