Virtual teams rely heavily on technology for communication among team members, and they face different challenges and require different leadership than teams that operate from the same location.

For many organizations, using virtual teams can be a transformational strategy for cost reductions and efficiency gains. Research indicates that team members who work virtually can see significant increases in productivity, innovation, and creativity, as well as job satisfaction and engagement. Yet, so many organizations fail to unlock these positive benefits. The question is “Why?”, and the answer can be complex.

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Key Challenges Faced by Virtual Teams

Using virtual teams can be a transformational strategy for cost reductions and efficiency gains

For many organizations, using virtual teams can be a transformational strategy for cost reductions and efficiency gains. Research indicates that team members who work virtually can see significant increases in productivity, innovation, and creativity, as well as job satisfaction and engagement. Yet, so many organizations fail to unlock these positive benefits. The question is “Why?”, and the answer can be complex.

The unlocked potential is often a symptom of a greater underlying issue: leaders and members often lack the understanding and ability to handle the unique dynamics of virtual teams. Simply stated, virtual teams are substantially different from co-located teams – and need to be treated as such.

Virtual Team Management Principles

Using virtual teams can be a transformational strategy for cost reductions and efficiency gains

Managing a Virtual Meeting

In a typical in-person meeting, about 80 percent of the team leader’s time is spent discussing the actual content of the meeting. Ten percent of the time is spent planning. Ten percent is spent on follow-up.

Virtual team meetings are quite different. Best practice is to spend 50 percent of the time on planning the meeting, 20 percent of the time in the actual meeting, and 30 percent of the time on follow-up. Successful virtual team meetings require a deeper understanding of the purpose, goals, preparation, and clear outcomes.

Norming, Forming, Transforming, Performing Model

To understand the development process of virtual teams, Partners in Development employs the Norming-Forming-Transforming-Performing model. This model helps to identify and analyze the different stages of team growth, and how they contribute to the success of each virtual team. Each stage is critical to the development of a high-performing virtual team.

Long-Distance Leadership Model ™

Partners in Development’s Long-Distance Leadership Model ™ helps virtual team leaders and members plan, prepare, produce, and obtain measurable results. It incorporates eight predictors of high performing virtual teams.

Plan: Articulate team purpose and vision and Determine skills needed for overall team.

Prepare: Select and onboard team members and Create clear agreements.

Produce: Ensure high-quality leader and member communication and Maintain high productivity and engagement.

Results: Provide performance support and Deliver timely results.

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