Communication is important on all levels of a company and can be challenging in multiple ways, especially if we zoom in on a virtual team. While some would argue that a virtual team makes things easier, others would say it makes it more complex. Nonetheless, virtual teams are now a reality in the workplace and despite the challenges, they are here to stay.
It is crucial to acknowledge there is a big difference between a local and a virtual team. The biggest challenge in virtual teams is the lack of face-to-face interactions and more specifically, the lack of eye contact and body language. This has a substantial impact on the type and the growth of the professional relationship. Moreover, virtual roles can become complicated as they can transform due to the implementation of innovative technologies or when the group dynamics change. Since a major part of a project manager’s time is communication, it’s important to understand the communications styles of virtual team workers.
Nonetheless, we cannot forget the biggest advantage of virtual teams as it allows connecting and engaging geographically dispersed employees. Different forms of both formal and informal communication methods can bring a team together. Technology is important in virtual teams and it’s important to choose the best tools to facilitate communication. They can really give a positive spin to the lack of physical interaction, lack of face to face synergies, lack of trust, greater concern with the predictability and reliability and the lack of social interactions. Trust is another crucial aspect of every team. More trust comes with more efficient communication and a greater feeling of unity. If possible, give your virtual team the opportunity to meet once face to face, as it allows to re-organize, re-strategize, and gain a new understanding and respect for the team.
In case a face to face meeting is not an option, you will need to put in extra effort and awareness on the common goal from all team members, including the manager, before achieving an effective functional virtual team.
At MODIS we acknowledge the importance of virtual teams and their corresponding challenges which virtual teams must deal with. As a company with multiple international ties, we can confirm that clear directions and goals strengthens the individual as well as the team. MODIS always strives to uphold the quality of our communication regardless of your position in the team. This is especially important for project managers who are frequently part of a virtual team.
Author Alicia Serck,