There are a number of differences between a virtual team and the traditional formal team. The most obvious difference between the two is the geographical location of the team members. With the traditional formal team, all the members of the team will work within the same geographical location, generally in the same physical building.
This often means that the group must work on the same schedule, meaning everyone must be at the same location at the same time. Because virtual teams involve advanced global communication technologies, workers are not restricted to one physical location. They can use communication tools to work together over long distances.
The advent of the virtual team has allowed many team members to work together despite the fact that they may have never met each other in person. In some cases, the members of the virtual teams may have no idea how the other members of the team look.
In contrast, formal team members actually thrive on the ability to see and work with each other in person. Another powerful aspect of the virtual team is the enormous amount of money which is saved through its implementation. For instance, with a virtual team, there is no reason to worry about parking space, since the members of the team have no reason to park in one location.
The costs of travel are also dramatically reduced. In the past, it was common for certain employees to spend weeks traveling on business from one location to another. While physical travel is still necessary today, and will not phase out anytime soon, the advent of virtual teams has made it less necessary, and this naturally leads to lower costs for the organizations which implement them.
In some ways, virtual teams have made the necessity for physical travel obsolete, at least when it comes to business purposes. For example, instead of paying a worker to get on a plane and fly to Shanghai for a meeting, it is much more efficient, faster, and cost effective to simply hold a video conference.
Adding More People to the Labor Pool
In the past, companies were restricted in their ability to hire people. As with more formal teams, these organizations were restricted to their physical location. They did have the option of bringing in workers from another country, but they could only do this through great expense.
Government work visas combined with other restrictions made hiring foreign workers unproductive for the typical corporation, unless these foreign workers were highly specialized or skilled. In this area, the virtual team is the opposite of the formal team. Not only is it easier for virtual teams to increase their labor pools, but it can be done for a very affordable price.
Virtual teams don’t have to worry about work visas or things of this nature, since they are communicating over a digital media and there is little need to worry about such concerns. In addition to this, the size of the virtual team can be increased or decreased at will.
A virtual team doesn’t have the spend the time and resources that a physical team would have to spend in order to bring in foreign workers. Because less people are commuting, this actually has a positive benefit on the environment since workers don’t have to worry about traveling long distances in order to get to work.
Being able to acquire the best talent without having to worry about the restrictions of geographical locations is extremely important, and is a powerful aspect of virtual corporations.
Virtual Teams are excellent for those who are physically handicapped. Physical handicaps are not a prohibitive factor in allowing one to work as a member of a virtual team.
For a formal team, incorporating handicapped workers is very challenging, and this means that costly provisions must be made for them which will reduce the operating expenses of the organization. While the virtual team is far from being perfect, it offers a number of powerful advantages which allows it to supersede formal teams in many areas.