What are Virtual Teams?

Virtual teams have an old origin even though with the spread of technology it seems that this type of modern workforce is a new concept.

Ever since the creation of the Roman Empire and the coming together of current day military personnel who operate outside of their encampment, virtual teams have always existed.

In brief, geographic dispersal has been the key reason virtual teams are created.

Seven Virtual Teams

Here are the 7 Virtual Teams and a brief synopsis of how they work:

  1. Service Teams – Technical support and service is provided around the clock
  2. Project and Development teams – Decisions for all projects are made by all members
  3. Network Teams – Where a common goal is the purpose for collaboration
  4. A Parallel Team- Where it’s important to find improvements in systems and processes
  5. Work and Production Teams – Performance is ongoing and there is team membership
  6. Functional Oriented Teams – Work with management on a routine basis
  7. Action Teams – Handle emergency response situations

A virtual team refers to a group or collection of individuals who work together from divergent geographic locations. These teams specifically depend on communication technology such as video or voice conferencing, emails and fax, in order to accomplish one or more organizational tasks collectively and without having to be in the same location. The work is predominantly achieved electronically using virtual communication technologies; some team members may never get to meet each other face-to-face.

Team Building

Fiber-optic technology has facilitated the task of creating these virtual teams to communicate off-site in a very effective manner.

The scope of virtual teams is enabling many companies to find and hire the best talent without worrying about geographic location.

There is almost no need for a hierarchy within the business of virtual teams. Teamwork is the modus operandi and everyone is a team player or team leader in their own virtual way.

Many virtual team members have skills that they can share with others and all are accountable for their performance, even if they are geographically dispersed. Some employees work out of the office and others out of their home, but all know their responsibilities and carry their duties in a determined way to make the end result meaningful and well-presented to the client within a deadline.

What are some of the Challenges?

Virtual teams may deal with global time differences for one. Culture and local business customs may dampen the practice between teams. Some may disengage or lose trust; others may lack clarity and lose the cooperation factor. Priorities and goals may remain unclear and brainstorming may not work well in such cases.

Successful Virtual Teams

In order for a virtual connection to take place successfully, here are few things to take into consideration when creating virtual team membership:

  • Team members must become more efficient in team synergy.
  • Members must adapt to, and adopt state-of-the-art technologies available.
  • Resilience to change and being adaptive must be learned.
  • Flexibility is needed regarding responses to organizations and market requirements.
  • Fluidity in team membership and participation in skill assimilation is a must.
  • New members should become seasoned within a determined timeline.

In resume, virtual teams have access to each other and are provided with all types of information on a full-time basis, if necessary, across time and space, via communication technology. Common skills and complementary purposes make virtual teams interdependent in order to achieve perfect performance. Goals are shared and the work approach is such that all are mutually accountable for the success of the team, project, and company that has been established in a virtual team environment.

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