Virtual Teams

Remembering the benefits of virtual working for me

As well as organizational benefits, the current increase in remote, virtual, matrixed and digital teams can offer up huge opportunities for us and our teams.  We need to keep communicating this to our teams (and reminding ourselves).  To name a few:

Part of remote working can involve working from home or teleworking.  Gallup has consistently found that flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job.

Being part of a global remote team crossing different time-zones can mean greater flexibility for employees to manage their work and time, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues worldwide to get ideas for their current local challenges.  It also gives us international exposure – a pre-requisite to career progression in many multinationals – without having to expatriate our entire family.

Most jobs are placing more and more demands on individuals – however one study found that if workers across a range of industries who had a high need for autonomy were given the opportunity to combine office and teleworking, they were still motivated to do a good job even if demands on them increased.  So that’s good for the individual and good for the organization.

For example, one global head of L&D at a high-tech manufacturing company shared how she was feeling very stressed and thinking of leaving her job because of the amount of travel she was doing.  Instead she decided to move 80% of her face-to-face meetings to Webex.  A year later she felt much happier in her work – and there had been no discernible impact on her business metrics, or team morale.

Virtual teams where no-one has ‘official’ control teaches important skills, such as how to influence without authority, that are key to developing our career and motivating colleagues in any modern workplace.

Working in cross-functional matrixed teams was shown by a study by LinkedIn to be second only to a top 5 US-school MBA for reaching C-suite roles, without the $250,000 price tag.  In addition, getting involved with extended matrix teams with customers and suppliers is a fantastic learning curve and will help build our wider networks – potentially providing the gateway to our next job.

Finally, having the chance to experience fast-paced transient digital teams will help us build the skills we need for the future.  That is, how to connect quickly with a diverse set of people in multiple, fragmented teams and get straight down to ‘performing’, without the usual delays for ‘forming, norming and storming’.

Regularly reminding us and our teams of these benefits helps create a positive upward spiral – encouraging us to look out for further opportunities that this virtual way of working brings, rather than using up all our energy bemoaning the late-night conference calls or increased complexity of working in multiple virtual teams where we rarely meet face-to-face.

If you would like to see more of our latest research led insights into virtual, matrix and digital teams please download our white paper here. Please note we only respond to corporate email addresses, not gmail or other generic ones.

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