It is important to note that only high performance virtual teams are effective. The number of people who are working in the identical location at the same time are beginning to decrease.
One advent of this phenomenon is the introduction of virtual teams. A virtual team is basically defined as a team where members work together from remote geographical locations.
In every case, there is little need for the members of the virtual team to be in the same location while working, and in fact, for a virtual team, being in the same location would actually reduce the productivity and efficiency of the group.
In recent years, virtual teams have become powerful tools for corporations and businesses of all sizes. The end product created by the virtual team is the combination of both groups as well as individual performance on the part of the group.
In order for a virtual team to work together seamlessly, there are two things which are critical, and this is connections as well as communications. If a virtual team is unable to communicate with each other effectively, then it will be impossible for that team to succeed. This is true regardless of the talent of the individual members of the group.
When building a virtual team, there are a number of questions which the team leader must ask, and these questions are:
What does each member need?
What is the proper method to use?
Who will be responsible for making sure the communication occurs at the proper time?
If these questions are not resolved or understood at the start of the project, communication lapses are very likely.
The mechanisms for communication are critical to the success of the team. At the same time, it would be a mistake for the team members to rely solely on just these communication mechanisms. Whether you are hosting Internet meetings, email units, or phone conferences, it is critical for you to make sure that your communication mechanisms are very reliable.
For instance, if you are doing business over the web, as most virtual teams are, it is absolutely critical for you to make sure you use an ISP (Internet Service Provider), that is reliable. The last thing you need is to be having connection problems when you are in the middle of a critical project.
Build a Solid Foundation for Your Virtual Team
When you build a virtual team, its foundation will either be made out of sand or stone. If it is made out of sand, your team will fall apart, regardless of how good your idea is, or the reliability of your communication mechanisms.
Regular communications should be maintained, and when one member of the team contacts another member, they should respond with a reasonable time frame. My definition of "reasonable" is 24 to 48 hours.
If the members of your team live in different time zones, they may be sleeping when you email them, so it is unreasonable to expect them to email you in less than 24 hours(unless they happen to be awake).
Anything longer than 48 hours is rarely acceptable simply because critical projects that are deadline sensitive will require rapid communications in order to be completed on time.
Emphasize Communications and Connections
Connections are one of the most important aspects of virtual teams. The members of the team must be able to connect with each other so they can communicate. Without the ability to connect, it is impossible for one to properly communicate. If a group cannot communicate, then it is impossible for them to properly complete projects.
While there are many benefits to building a virtual team, they will only succeed if the team places an emphasis on both connections and communication. The ability for team members to connect with each other should form an important and mandatory part of the job. No virtual team can survive without communication and connections, there are no exceptions to this rule.