Organizations are taking actions to reduce the impact these unprecedented times have on their business. Restricting travel, canceling large gatherings, and asking employees to work from home offices are some common reactions. In talking with people who are being asked to work from home, one of the biggest concerns is the effectiveness of virtual teams.
Many people believe that face-to-face interactions among team members are essential for effective teamwork. As it becomes imperative for people to learn how to work together virtually, it is critical for individuals and teams to find new ways to sustain optimal levels of productivity and efficiency.
Teams working remotely face unique challenges in communicating and collaborating efficiently and productively. Research conducted by Wilson Learning a few years ago highlights this problem. Our research showed that the most productive teams are those with a high level of diversity and high levels of communication skills. However, if communication skills are lacking, the highly diverse teams are the lowest-performing teams. Thus, effective teamwork and communication skills for virtual teams are even more important than for other teams. You can’t walk down the hall or into the next cubicle to discuss a problem if people are working remotely. As a result, without critical skill sets, virtual teams will fail to fully engage team members, establish clear goals and standards, and establish the processes necessary to get things done.