Not long ago I created a couple of weblog posts around the topic of virtual teams and how to make them much more productive while sharing knowledge and collaborating with one another without having a significant impact in their performance. Back then, I mentioned how trust and fun can certainly improve things to help those distributed teams become much more efficient and effective while performing a specific job. However, that may not be good enough.
At least, that is what the article, by Mike Dempster, describes in Team-building key for virtual workplace, based on a recent research study done by Darleen DeRosa. Apparently, companies are not paying enough attention on how to improve the way distributed team members work and interact with one another, as opposed to those who work face to face. In fact, Darleen actually identifies seven different key areas that would require certain consideration in order to help improve where there may be some issues:
“Companies must compensate for the lack of human contact, and find appropriate ways to support team spirit, trust and productivity. Leaders must be especially sensitive to interpersonal, communication and cultural factors. No trust, no team. Trust is a top factor in determining virtual team success. But interpersonal trust, compared to task-level trust (a faith that team members will do their job) is more difficult to achieve in a virtual environment. Team building pays off. Virtual teams that invest time in team building perform better than those that don’t. Team performance tends to drop off after one year. Attention must be paid to interpersonal, communication and cultural factors to prevent a “peak-and-decline” syndrome. Technology makes virtual teaming possible, but isn’t a perfect substitute for human interaction. Teams must be careful to use the appropriate technology for various tasks. While meeting in person requires time and expense, virtual teams that meet once or twice a year perform better overall than those that don’t meet.”
I am sure that as you read through them you may be nodding to more than one particular key area and that is something that will certainly show how your virtual team may need to do some more work in order to bring collaboration and knowledge sharing to where it should have been in the first place. So, that is why I thought about creating a weblog post on this subject so that you could have a look into the article itself because there are some really good tips that virtual team leaders can take into practice to make sure that those distributed teams will continue to collaborate the way face to face teams currently do, if not better.
There are some additional comments as well in the article itself from people who were interviewed for the research that will clearly show why some of those results have been important for the well being of those specific virtual teams. And that is why later on, over the next few days, I will also be creating another weblog post to comment further on those key areas mentioned above and also to share a thought or two around the different comments posted as part of the study. For the time being read through the article because I am sure you would be able to learn a thing or two on how to improve the way you interact with your distributed team(s). Or, even better, you may want to use it as a reference on the different items you may have been working on already with your virtual team(s).