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A virtual team is one in which members live in different locations and must use various communicative technologies to work together efficiently. Emails, video conferences, and messaging apps are essential in this set-up.

The main advantages of a virtual team relate to the convenience and accessibility these technologies bring. They also open up more avenues for large-scale collaboration and innovation. On the flip side, a virtual team can present many unexpected challenges.  

Though, the same technologies that lead to virtual team drawbacks also offer solutions. We’ll examine the most common issues and how to resolve them. 

8 Virtual Team Drawbacks and Their Resolutions

1. Employee Disengagement

In the absence of an office environment. Employees may not be able to fully connect with their work. This affects their commitment to daily tasks and, in turn, the general quality of their output.

Solution: Employees should keep daily work logs on the office intranet. Listing what they accomplished and what roadblocks they encountered. This ensures that they are accountable for completing their tasks. Showing insight into how certain work processes can be improved.   

2. Maintaining Trust

As employees don’t physically see each other in a virtual team set-up, they have a limited idea of what everyone contributes. Without perspective on how each individual’s work ties into the company’s goals, team morale may gradually break down. 

Solution: the work logs used to tackle employee disengagement come in handy here. By being transparent with their work, will reassure colleagues of their process. They can also see how their quality of work impacts others. 

3. Intra-team Conflict

With all members in different locations. Communication delays and differences can occur. Despite their best intentions, misunderstandings do arise, and the resulting friction can affect team morale and work quality. 

Solution: messaging apps can reduce the communication lag when email and video conferences aren’t possible. The company should also conduct online communication workshops and team-building exercises to help employees overcome their differences. 

4. Uneven Skill Distribution

It’s often difficult for virtual team members to pick up new skills when based in various locations. This can lead to an unequal distribution of work based on uneven skill distribution. A few employees may overwork to compensate for other colleagues, who are not as skilled as them.

Solution: the company should schedule workshops or boot camps to upskill their employees. These can be either online or in-person. While such events may be expensive and challenging to organise, it gives extra opportunities for employees to forge stronger bonds.  

5. Obstacles to Collaborations

Being in different locations will create differences in the internet speed and technology. In worst-case scenarios, projects might get delayed or cancelled entirely due to these limitations. 

Solution: companies must keep up-to-date with the latest communication technology innovations. They should weigh the pros and cons of each against what they want their workforce to achieve. In general, it’s in their best interest to invest in better technology to maintain good working conditions.  

6. Increased Cost of Technology

The previous challenge feeds into increasing overhead costs. To ensure smooth communication, the best technology must apply. This often doesn’t come cheap.

Solution: grant a budget for technology upgrades. This may involve slashing spending in other areas. A virtual team needs to have the best technology to keep up and running. The extra investment in this area may also reduce costs that result from communication delays. 

7. Social Isolation

Due to being physically separated from their colleagues. Virtual team members lose out on opportunities to be able to bond. They may feel lonely and isolated, which in turn affects their work quality.

Solution: regular check-ins ensure that team members at least meet online. Companies can also organise fun virtual events such as, parties and games. This can help teammates to create bonds. Zoom and Google Hangout rooms have proven useful in bringing colleagues together for trivia nights, virtual scavenger hunts, and more.

8. Possible Security Risks

There are always risks when transferring and storing important data. These range from hackers creating data-stealing viruses, to employees accidentally leaking data.

Solution: the budget for technology upgrades should also include security patches. Again, this might prove to be costly, but it’s an essential part of a virtual team’s daily operations. Especially when security upgrades prevent the high costs of data leaks or deletion. 

Conclusion

Virtual teams are an essential part of the global business landscape. Their benefits and accessibility are a blessing to all employees, regardless of the drawbacks. Thus, it’s important to consider how the same communicative technology can be better used to overcome many virtual team setbacks. 

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An exclusive 10-month, fully-sponsored, program designed for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make the world a better place.

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Daniel Dippold

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