Virtual teams have long since become an integral part of the corporate organization in many organizations. Mobile work and home office are often the basis for teams to work together efficiently even without close proximity. But what other tools can positively influence the performance and quality of work of virtual teams? What does it take for companies to benefit from cross-border and cross-national teams?

Benefits of virtual teams

Virtual teams have many benefits not only for companies,but also for their employees. While companies can often rely on a much wider range of experts, including from the international sector, by dissolving local jobs, you can also promote the reduction of costs and time intervals and the increase in customer benefit for your workforce. Teams do this by holding online meetings instead of traditional meetings and working together on projects, jobs and processes in the digital space in real time and together. Documents can be transmitted at the click of a mouse and important messages can be exchanged via messenger systems. By using IT tools, task distribution and progress for all members are presented in a top-of-the-line and transparent manner. However, customers no longer have to be visited by local employees when enquiries are made, but instead they can be advised in the form of a video conference.

Benefits of virtual teams:

  • Dissolution of local teams
  • Use of the work of international experts
  • Reducing time and cost factors
  • Increasing customer benefit
  • collaborate on global teams through online meetings, messenger systems, and the creation of a digital conference room
  • Transparency about task distribution and processing progress
  • online-based customer service

Helpful systems and tools for virtual teams

In order to realize these benefits, some important and efficient measures and tools are needed to promote community virtual work.

Project and task management tools

Since virtual teams cannot access a communal location space by presenting all tasks, documents, appointments and projects clearly and transparently, special software solutions are required that make project and task management available to all team members at all times and display them up-to-date. This is the only way that virtual teams can work together professionally and efficiently.

Digital Mind Maps

In addition to an organized project and task management, the use of digital mind maps is also an advantage. With this, it is easier for virtual teams to collect ideas and approaches and then structure and analyze them together. Online-based editing allows you to make changes to your goals anytime, anywhere, and by any team member.

Messenger Systems

The lack of personal contact and a possible break in the communication density of the teams can be corrected not only by telephone and email but also by messenger systems. These make it possible not only to exchange important information and data much faster, but also much more clearly with each other and to be in real-time-based contact with several team members at the same time. But special virtual telephone systems can also create added value. On the one hand, it is easy to see whether a colleague is currently available for contact ingestion and, on the other hand, it is also possible for virtual teams to access their colleagues’ contacts from home and call them if necessary.

Online conferences

However, virtual teams also need to access an extended meeting round at regular intervals. In order to avoid travel costs and the corresponding time lost for a personal meeting, virtual teams can rely on the use of online conferences. All team members can join forces in an online-based room and hold a traditional meeting.

Tools for data sharing

Finally, virtual teams should preferably also use file-sharing applications. It can be used to transfer data, documents, and information to multiple computers and keep them up-to-date. By sharing data, for example by using clouds, multiple team members can work on one file at the same time, saving enormous time.

Find the right tool

It is not always necessary to use all the tools to ensure efficient collaboration between your virtual teams. Therefore, you should first analyze the communication problems that your workforce has in order to provide a helpful tool based on this. Basically, it is a good way to go through the following process.

Step 1: Problem Analysis and Objective

Find out what your team’s collaboration is all about, where and in which situations specific communication or media breaks can be found. Based on these results, you can then develop a vision that shows what an optimal improvement should look like. This means not only that you check the availability and feasibility of the tool, but also the professional handling of your employees with the new tool. To ensure the latter, you should involve your teams in the process early.

Step 2: Planning

In this step, you should think carefully about the introduction of the tool. If your teams are less familiar with such a tool so far, it may make sense to provide an online workshop or Internet-based consultant. This allows you to better better help your employees to use the tool in a more targeted way. At the same time, you should also include implementation costs and future-oriented fees, such as maintenance or updates, in your planning.

Step 3: Implementation

If you have planned the realization of the tool satisfactorily, you can finally make the tool available to your employees. But again, you should note that it may take some time for your teams to be familiar with the tool. Only then can existing problems be solved and benefited.

Conclusion

Virtual teams offer your business great potential for effective and local collaboration of experts from around the world by using the tools presented. Recent studies have shown that more and more employees want the possibility of a home office or more flexible, self-determined working hours. By introducing virtual teams and providing the right tools, you can fulfill your workforce’s needs. At the same time, however, you don’t have to do without traditional ways of working, such as conferences and meetings, or aspects such as transparent communication and cross-departmental project management.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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