All businesses, large and small, may soon have to follow the example of these industry leaders and implement the concept of geographically dispersed teams into their structure. While the benefits of virtual teams are unprecedented – talented human capital, international diversity, cultural awareness and adaptability, varying perspectives and fresh strategic outlooks – these teams are often hard to lead and manage due to a lack of face-to-face communication.
The challenge for managers is how to communicate effectively in the virtual realm, which is often harder than it appears. Social distance between team members can cause disengagement and poor performance. Communicating predominantly by emails and messages can lack personal connection and thus be seen as overwhelming or an inconvenience. Often goals and tasks are “lost in translation”, resulting in unmet deadlines and unfulfilled objectives and leading to low team morale. The real and tangible repercussions of poor virtual communication can be seen in a study of 70 virtual teams, where 82% fell short on their intended goals.
While the code to effective virtual communication may seem difficult to crack, there are several steps businesses can follow in order to optimise their virtual communication and get the best out of virtual teams.