The Pros & Cons of the Virtual Team

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Remote worker greets members of her virtual team in online meeting.

According to Forbes, a business’s strength rests upon the diversity and openness of its team. As businesses become more open to evolving technology, the concept of the virtual team has become more mainstream. Companies have begun to adapt to virtual teams, having been won over by the cost savings, efficiency, and performance value of bringing the best people together, regardless of where they live. Cutting down on corporate travel, being able to access top talent around the globe, and leveraging technology to connect people across different time zones come with enormous advantages. However, before becoming fully remote, businesses should consider the pros and cons of the virtual workplace.

Students and professionals looking to understand the pros and cons of the virtual workplace, or develop their own virtual business team, can gain key skills while earning an Online Master of Business Administration.

The High-Performing Virtual Team

Many real-world examples can speak to the value of the virtual team. Consider AppNeta, a software as a service company. The company is devoted to delivering effective software services across various networks. Over 140 employees work at two corporate headquarters, in Vancouver and Boston, as well as seven other offices. As the company has continued to grow, it has employed more virtual team members and grown to prominence. The company now works with some of the biggest international cloud providers and corporations.

Just a few years ago, AppNeta’s success would’ve been hard to foresee. Managing its virtual team would’ve seemed unnecessarily complex and unworkable. Through the use of tools like Google Docs, Skype, Slack, Zoom, mobile devices, and interactive project collaboration sites, this far-reaching team is able to perform seamlessly. Better yet, production can continue past normal working hours, with colleagues in different time zones.

Although AppNeta has a high-performing virtual team, establishing an effective virtual team of this caliber takes time, energy, and dedication. One of the most important aspects of putting together a virtual team consists of setting goals and managing effectively.

Challenges of Virtual Teams

Before a remote team can become a high-performing virtual team, management should understand the pros and cons of the virtual team and make decisions accordingly. As effective as virtual teams can be, some challenges must be surmounted. For one, collaborating across time zones can make it difficult for employees to keep normal business hours. While some employees will be available to communicate during normal working hours, others will need to wake up early or stay up late to discuss matters with coworkers or managers. This coordination of communication can create a burden in managing life and work demands.

Communication styles can also be problematic, as some individuals are less effective virtual communicators. For instance, talking to someone by phone or video conferencing doesn’t always convey the nuances of each individual’s personality. Language, itself can also be a problematic aspect of communication, unless all teammates have a working knowledge of business English.

Diversity is a powerful asset to the workforce as it brings together a wealth of knowledge across different subjects and areas of expertise. However, with diverse employees from around the world, companies will have employees with different religious and national holidays. Project managers need to be sensitive to these variances and plan accordingly.

Even though virtual teams can conduct work remotely, for the most part, companies may need to bring employees together for events or important meetings. Answering the demand for in-person meetings can become an expensive logistical challenge when trying to gather teams from around the world. Conducting reviews can also be challenging, as it may be harder to assess employee performance from a distance.

Benefits of Virtual Teams

Even though business managers should consider and prepare for the challenges that come with remote jobs, there are many benefits of virtual teams. Effective virtual teams bring together experts in the field, regardless of where they live. Companies that employ virtual employees don’t have to settle for less-qualified employees based on their convenient proximity. They also don’t need to go through the trouble of making their employees relocate.

Another benefit of a virtual team is that employees work with coworkers from around the world, cultivating a diverse workplace. In creating a successful business, being open-minded to changes in technology, as well as changes in ideas and policies, is important. With a diverse virtual team, businesses can bring together individuals who are experts in different subjects and areas of expertise.

Since employees in virtual teams can work from home, they can have more flexibility in managing life and work. Some companies use different types of timesheet software, so employees can record the hours they work. Rather than wasting unnecessary time commuting to and from work, remote team members can maximize their working hours.

A great benefit of virtual teams is that they have no minimum or maximum size requirements. Since everyone works remotely, a company can have as many employees as it needs, without worrying about the expense of an office building. A company can also be as small as a few efficient, qualified employees who play many roles.

Building a virtual team isn’t as difficult as it once was, as a digital infrastructure exists for companies to do so. Companies can remotely communicate and establish company culture via many different means. Some virtual teams use Google Docs to share work and communicate through email, Slack, or Flock. Videoconferencing has evolved over the years, and virtual teams now have several options for Web meetings, including Zoom, Skype, Cisco Webex, Samepage, and StartMeeting.

Your Own Virtual Workplace

Before establishing a company with remote employees, a business manager should weigh the pros and cons of the virtual workplace. To prepare for a virtual workplace and become more equipped to manage a company, a student or professional can earn an Online Master of Business Administration at Ohio University. By participating in an online program, communicating with professors, administrators, and peers, MBA students will have their own experiences working with a virtual team. It can be extremely rewarding to collaborate and network with people with diverse perspectives and insights. If you’re considering a business career, discover how Ohio University’s Online Master of Business Administration can help you to understand the pros and cons of the virtual team.

Recommended Readings

Ohio University Blog, “How to Be Productive at Work Without Sacrificing Creativity”
Ohio University Blog, “How to Network Effectively”
Ohio University Blog, “MSM vs. MBA: Which Degree Is Right for You?”

Sources

AppNeta, AppNeta Recognized on the Inc. 5000 for the Fifth Time 
Fast Company, “This Is What It Takes to Build and Manage a High-Performing Virtual Team” 
Forbes, “Making Virtual Teams Feel Like They’re in the Same Room” 
Forbes, “The Power of a Team” 
Harvard Business Review, “Getting Virtual Teams Right”