Is your virtual team meeting your business expectations?
Are you able to maximize the productivity of your remote team?
Well, if not, you need to remove roadblocks of working on a virtual team.
Now, you might be thinking that how there can be any hurdle in your way when so many big companies are having virtual assistants on board.
But a hard truth is,
A professional journey with a remote team is never smooth.
On your way, you will meet many surprises and challenges that may give you a bumpy ride sometimes.
In this blog post, I’m going to discuss with you top 5 challenges that most startup heads and business owners face, when they work with a remote/virtual team.
This brief guide is going to help you equally, whether you are going to hire a VA team first time or you frequently hire a VA team.
What is a virtual team?
The Academy of Management Executive described a virtual team as,
“A group of people who work independently with shared purpose across space, time, and organization boundaries, using technology to communicate and collaborate.”
By hiring virtual assistants, entrepreneurs are able to employ highly skilled professionals without breaking the bank. And skilled professionals can get employment without leaving their doorsteps.
However, working with a virtual team is not always fulfilling for both organizations and employees.
Here are common challenges that most people face when working with a virtual team:
Misunderstanding from poor communication
In his beautiful post on The Effects of Poor Communication Alexis Writing, said,
“To establish a strong business relationship, effective communication practices must be established. Many opportunities for poor communication take place in any work environment.”
And when it is the virtual environment, the opportunities for poor communication multiplied.
The kicker is,
Communication can be a major problem if a virtual team has members from different countries and cultures.
As there is no physical clue, communicating by emails, IM, or telephone can be really difficult.
A research article on Cultural Barriers to Effective Communication states,
“Effective communication with people of different cultures is especially challenging. Cultures provide people with ways of thinking–ways of seeing, hearing, and interpreting the world.”
If you want to optimize the productivity of your remote team, you should overcome this hurdle.
How to deal with it
The best way to avoid any misunderstanding is to communicate in clear, plain language.
Never use idiomatic expressions, such as cut corners, costs an arm and leg, etc., if your virtual team has employees from different countries.
And never forget to request for an explanation if you haven’t understood any point. Don’t guess anything.
As rightly said by Gina Abudi,
“Virtual teams are often difficult to lead and manage. They require significant communications to be effective and require monitoring to ensure the team members are successfully meeting their goals.”
Difficulty in establishing rapport & trust
When you work in a virtual team, you cannot see your colleagues face-to-face.
So it becomes sometimes difficult to establish rapport & trust. This affects the productivity of a virtual team.
As rightly explained by Sarah Fudin in her article ‘Developing Relationships in Virtual Teams’,
“Team members may find it more difficult to establish rapport and trust with team members in remote locations. This is especially true when team communication is limited to virtual meetings.”
The lack of rapport & trust can hamper the productivity of your virtual team. So you should take
How to fix it
The secret to building rapport and trust lies in being more proactive.
You can share your success with the team members, help other members in solving their issues, suggest ways to complete projects efficiently.
These simple acts will build your rapport among team members.
Remember that your team members judge you by simple things such as how promptly you respond to emails, how you follow up on what you say, and how you interact with other team members.
An article published by Mind Tools Editorial team says,
“Trust evolves differently in virtual teams. In an office setting, colleagues build relationships and trust through social interaction and collaborative work. Researchers call this benevolent or interpersonal trust. However, in a virtual team, colleagues build trust through reliability, consistency, and responsiveness – this is called ability-based, or task-based trust.”
Sense of isolation
People who work in remote teams are connected with other people only through email, chats, and Skype.
So, needless to say, it is quite usual for people who work in virtual teams to feel isolated.
Your team might feel that you have forgotten them after assigning them tasks.
“While cohesiveness builds gradually in face-to-face teams, virtual teams often feel like no more than globally dispersed individuals working on the same project. It’s difficult to build an ‘all for one and one for all’ spirit via disjointed emails.”
The point here is,
A sense of isolation is a big productivity killer.
If you want to catapult the productivity of your remote team, you need to shatter the sense of isolation within your team.
How to bust it
The best way to combat isolation is to take active steps.
You can create a support group for the members of your virtual team, where all the members can share their problems.
If used creatively, a support group for a virtual team can bust the sense of isolation completely.
Encourage your remote workers to meet their friends and relatives, spend quality time with their families, go for vacations, take the memberships of hobby groups.
This way, you will be able to keep the sense of isolation at bay.
As pointed out by Sebastian Bailey in Forbes,
“Building specific ‘social time’ into the team calendar helps, as does starting every meeting with a quick update on everyone’s lives – weekend plans, upcoming holidays.”
Lack of training
When you are going to hire a remote team, it does not happen always that you will hire a team of experts who are really good at what they do.
Sometimes, entrepreneurs are not able to find experts remote workers. This affects the productivity of a team.
How to tackle this situation
The best way to tackle this situation is to choose a company that offers a free trial of its virtual assistant services.
Leading companies, such as Ninja VA, offer a free trial and a 100% money back guarantee of its virtual assistant services.
Take a free trial of virtual assistant services before you hire. This will help you in hiring a skilled remote team.
In my previous post, I have talked about ‘Top 5 things you must know before you hire a virtual assistant’. This post will certainly help you hire expert virtual assistants.
You should understand the fact you will have to provide your remote team with a brief information about your business, even if you hire experienced virtual assistants.
Suppose, you hire a virtual team for social media promotion of lifestyle products.
And your virtual assistants promoted electronic items in the past. A little bit training, especially what works well and what doesn’t in your industry, can bring better results.
Difficulty with delegation
If you are managing a big team of remote workers, you might face a problem in delegating the right tasks to the team members.
If remote team members don’t get tasks as per their expertise, the productivity is certain to suffer.
So, to hack the optimum growth for your business, you should delegate your remote tasks as per their expertise and past experience.
As rightly said by Laura Woods in her article,
“A good manager takes notes on her employee’s’ strengths and career aspirations and finds relevant tasks to delegate to them.”
How to overcome this hurdle
The best way to delegate the right tasks to the right remote workers is to understand their expertises and consider their past experiences.
There is no rocket science in it. It’s plain and simple. This simple exercise before starting a project can increase the productivity of your virtual team dramatically.
As rightly said by Carter McNamara in his article,
“Assess the skills and capabilities of the person to be sure that individual can actually accomplish the task. Does he/she have the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the task? If not, the person might need training. Or, perhaps the task should be delegated to someone else.”
Virtual teams are on the rise. So, without any doubt, you can easily scale up your business operations with the help of a virtual assistant team.
Misunderstanding from poor communication, difficulty in establishing rapport & trust, sense of isolation, lack of training, and difficulty with delegation are some common challenges you can face working with a remote team.
Keep these pointers in check and you will certainly increase the productivity of your virtual team.
Ever worked on a Virtual assistant team?
What more do you want to add to this post?
I’d love to hear about it. Do leave a comment!