A Mexican, an Italian, and a German joined a call. Although it seems like an opening to a stereotypical joke, it is the reality of many companies and businesses striving for a wider choice of employees. In other situations, remote work is a benefit highly appreciated by employees. Is that the way your company works? If so, you’re in for a treat because we’re going to show you how to manage teams that are dispersed across the globe and work for you remotely.
Even though the remote working mode and virtual teams had existed before, the pandemic times showed the undeniable benefits of this solution. Companies worldwide are switching from stationary headquarters to fully virtual businesses whose principles are simple: Working from home, maximizing productivity, and lowering costs. Interestingly enough, more and more studies show that geographically dispersed teams provide more benefits than those working in the same location. Does it mean that remote work and virtual teams are here to stay?
A geographically dispersed team – characteristics
When we think about a team, what we usually picture in our minds is a group of people working closely together. In the past, co-located teams were much more popular thanks to the comfort of maintaining the work and the information flow. The key factor was the distance – or rather, the lack of it – between the team members. Today, things are a bit different. Employers and leaders have already noticed that their colleagues and partners do not necessarily need to be sitting next to them to work effectively and meet the same expectations.
Having an opportunity to build a diverse team based solely on its members’ knowledge sounds like a sweet dream which comes true thanks to remote work. Nowadays, it is much more popular to be a part of a geographically dispersed team – a group of co-workers coming from different parts of the world. Such teams use other means of communication, including virtual meetings and telecommunication, to address their needs and discuss the projects in progress.
Leaders can undoubtedly agree that managing any kind of team, be it co-located or dispersed, is a tough nut to crack. They have to take many aspects into account to satisfy every individual member of their team. While managing teams cooperating in the same place seems clear, when it comes to virtual teams, things can get tricky.
Managing a geographically dispersed team
While working remotely is very often associated with freedom and less rigid schedules, the workflow inside any team must remain stable. A key to undisturbed teamwork is wise, properly conducted leadership. But how can leaders manage a team of members working from different continents and time zones?
Good managing fundaments include clear communication, establishing common goals, running productive meetings, and promoting mutual support. Now, for virtual teams, all of these factors need to be doubled down. This may not be an easy task, but it is definitely worth every effort. Additionally, the successful management of a virtual team will provide nothing but benefits. There are many suggestions on how you can manage your remote team; let us focus on the most crucial ones which directly influence the team members and their functionality.
Communication and information flow
Exchanging information is much easier in co-located teams; it is not surprising, then, that remote workers tend to feel disconnected more often than in-office employees. That is why a leader needs to make sure that everyone is up to date concerning every necessary information. To avoid any miscommunication, leaders can think about sending weekly emails with attached essentials and encouraging their employees to communicate swiftly with one another. Project management tools, such as Asana and Slack, also come in handy.
Along with communication, transparency is a crucial part of every team. However, it is especially important for virtual teams where the information flow does not happen as fast as in co-located teams. Managing the team is associated with distributing tasks and making sure that everyone is held accountable for their duties. That is why it could be much easier for remote team members to work on a shared platform. There, they could indicate completed tasks and mark their progress so that everyone knows at which stage the project is.
Access to information
It can be difficult for virtual teams to get all the necessary information, especially when they have just started working. Contacting individual employees might be a tedious task which, eventually, can lead to frustration. To avoid this, leaders might consider creating a digital asset library – a place where all the information about the company, FAQs, files, and other valuable data is stored. While it may take some time to design, it will prevent misunderstanding and provide substantial benefits in the long run.
Everyone wants to be heard and appreciated. While sharing information via email or a project management tool is a good start, videoconferencing is here to fill the gaps. Remote employees lack physical contact with their colleagues; that is why it is essential to provide a space where this contact could be re-enacted in some way. Leaders should use team meetings for brainstorming, discussing the projects, and also touching on the current issues.
There is nothing more crucial than a good work atmosphere. Of course, one might say that it is more important to achieve the goals. However, if the relationships between team members are tense and unfriendly, it will be shortly reflected in the quality of completed tasks. Leaders should promote establishing friendships and keeping in touch outside work. Here, a special channel could be created to encourage your employees to share their thoughts and interests, just like they would do in the office.
Does it really work?
Questioning the effectiveness of virtual teams is a common issue; leaders are concerned with the visible challenges of managing such teams. However, plenty of big enterprises prove that this work mode is not only efficient but also beneficial. Like any situation involving teamwork and cooperation, geographically dispersed teams have their advantages and disadvantages. Let us have a look at some of them.
- Opportunities to search for talents worldwide,
- Cost savings,
- Higher productivity, focus, and profits,
- Ongoing workflow thanks to different time zones.
- Miscommunication and misunderstandings,
- Problems connected with various time zones, cultures, and schedules (national holidays, days off, etc.),
- A feeling of isolation and disconnection.
Overall, while taking into account virtual teams, it is worth focusing on benefits and working on challenges. After overcoming the difficult part – which can be done by proper management and leadership – the value of remote teams will be easily visible. Hiring or cooperating with people from all around the world has become a usual part of every company’s work. One of the ways to start such a partnership is nearshore outsourcing.
Many projects and tasks are delegated to external companies to maximize the business workflow and potential. Nearshore outsourcing deals with looking for partners nearest the company’s headquarters. Usually, these are the neighboring countries; for example, the company located in the United States will delegate its projects to partners in Canada or Mexico.
There are many benefits of nearshore outsourcing. First of all, it makes the work more dynamic; while the outsourcers are focusing on the given project, the company’s staff may pay attention to more urgent issues. Nearshore outsourcing is also a great solution for staff shortages, and it provides a wider range of choices when it comes to partners’ skills and talents. What needs to be taken into account are possible cultural differences and language barriers. However, this can be solved swiftly by establishing clear cooperation rules and being open-minded to possible obstacles.
One way or another, there is no doubt that remote work and partnership are here to stay with us. And if you’re looking for a trusted partner that can help you with your IT projects in the European Union, NeedCode is at your service!