The lack of personal relationships and the generation of ideas are the biggest challenges when doing remote work.
New technology is advancing, there are, however, challenges to working across physical and cultural divides. Just like traditional teams, virtual teams experience all the stages of group formation: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Transforming; but at a different pace.
Our ability to communicate and connect can enhance or diminish the purpose and potential of virtual team forming. Because the nonverbal component is lost, communication and trust are typically not at the same level virtually as in face-to-face interactions. There are no lively hallway debates and discussions that help form solid relationships. In the absence of relationships, virtual team members have a tendency toward quick agreements. In the long run, it is a great flaw when it comes to the team members’ ability to brainstorm, problem-solve, and navigate through conflict. Certain rules of behavior that are taken for granted in person have to be given special care in virtual teams. For example, during an in-person meeting, some great ideas might come up during breaks. In the virtual world, there is no lingering after meetings to decompress, contemplate, and connect. This is the informal coming together that has to be formally planned in the virtual world. Usually the first time these challenges are discovered is after the damage has been done. Consistent training and specifically team building in the forming stage of group development can develop trust and foster more effective communication. This deeper level of trust and communication leads to cohesiveness, commitment to team goals, and better and faster decisions.
Hot to overcome the challenges of working remotely?
When your team is working virtually, the biggest challenges are communication, trust, and technology. To ensure your team stays connected by purpose and technology, create a clear vision and understanding of team goals, the proper use of communication and technology. Developing an effective virtual team requires the same techniques as developing an effective traditional team. Teams experience forming, storming, norming, performing, and transforming. The main difference is the time it takes to progress through the stages, especially the first two stages. On a traditional team, relationships and trust are built during the unplanned moments throughout the day. Hallway discussions, talks before or after meeting, allow team members to get to know each other in a relaxed and casual manner. Through these interpersonal interactions, trust develops naturally over time. Because the virtual team does not operate in the same manner, many of these impromptu conversations and connections have to be planned for and built into team conference calls or other types of team meetings.
That is why we’ve created a large list of Online Team Building Games as well as recommend the use of a Virtual Office. Applied right, they help make building a strong team foundation by developing trusting relationships, effective communicating, and the right use of technology to enhance the team’s connections.