Virtual teamwork provides employers the opportunities to work without boundaries. For employees, it opens up unlimited opportunities to work for different organizations around the world. However, the reality is not as cozy as it sounds in theory.
Rapidly advancing technology, the crucial need to harness diverse skills, the increasing demands of globalization and the recent COVID outbreak has made remote collaboration more important than ever. Communication can get derailed when teams never meet face to face and collaboration can suffer when workers are allocated too much or too little work. Lastly, unconscious bias can impact the success of virtual teamwork just as it affects physical workplace environments.
Comprehensive unconscious bias e-learning programs can help your employees perform well in an age of virtual teamwork. Contact Symmetra for our extensive range of leadership skills training programs that foster trust, enhance communication, reinforce respectful behaviors and build inclusive leadership.
Getting Virtual Teamwork Right
Virtual teams consisting of employees from all over the world are on the rise. Talent shortages in local areas are fuelling the increase in remote teams. Employees with disabilities and commuting difficulties are also able to enjoy greater access to work opportunities from the comfort of their homes.
Moreover, with the coronavirus spread looking to pose a long-term challenge, employers are now looking at virtual teamwork as the new normal. But remote teamwork goes much beyond leveraging laptops, Wi-Fi connections, and Smartphones.
A recent study from MIT indicated that virtual teams can actually outperform teams that are co-located. To succeed, however, remote teams need to be managed in certain ways. Virtual teams often consist of people from different cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, values and belief systems.
Here’s a closer look at some key considerations for virtual team management:
1. Virtual team bonding and cohesion must be fostered on a deeper level. They cannot be united through company picnics or table tennis games.
2. Since communications cannot happen face-to-face, they must be more deliberate and transparent.
3. Leaders must make a genuine attempt at understanding and embracing cultural diversity and avoid making assumptions based on unconscious biases.
Leaders often harbor several forms of unconscious biases when it comes to virtual teamwork. Some important examples include distance bias (discomfort with the idea of working with someone who lives far away from you), expedience bias (you don’t want to go virtual because it doesn’t feel ‘right’) or safety bias (focusing excessively on potential pitfalls such as employees skipping work).
Symmetra’s wide range of fun, innovative and gamified diversity and inclusion e-learning programs are aligned with your corporate goals, mission, and values. Our online HR and D & I gurus will help you leverage the benefits of virtual teamwork to improve productivity, enhance performance and boost the bottom line.
Leadership Skills for Virtual Team Management
Targeted leadership and unconscious bias training programs can help you create inclusive and engaging work environments for your virtual teams. When your employees work online, there are higher chances of feeling isolated and excluded due to conscious and unconscious biases and asynchronous working.
To harness the advantages of remote working, we recommend taking the following steps:
- Organize informal, friendly introductory meetings for your virtual teams and help members understand each other’s cultural backgrounds.
- Provide equality and diversity e-learning programs to help foster stronger relationships and better cross-cultural competencies.
- Develop collaborative processes for better clarity on roles, responsibilities, workflows, conflict resolution and problem-solving.
The Symmetra advantage can help leaders, managers and employees appreciate, value and celebrate diversity in remote teams. Our expert online trainers enable better collaboration, facilitate respectful behaviors and help your organization accelerate business success.