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What Is A Virtual Team?

This year, virtual teams and remote working has become the norm for many of us. For this reason, working effectively as a virtual team is more important than ever. In this article, we'll take a look at the definition of a virtual team, different types of virtual teams and the importance of virtual team building.

What is a virtual team?

A virtual team is a group of people who work together from different physical locations. They often use a range of digital tools to assist with this and communicate with each other using tools such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack, etc. 

Virtual teams may sometimes be referred to as geographically dispersed teams.

Virtual teams are becoming the new norm across the UK due to the current pandemic and as more businesses and employees embrace working from home, effective collaboration between teams is now more important than ever to keep productivity high. However, with many of us fairly new to the remote lifestyle we find ourselves living, maintaining the same level of collaboration and productivity can be challenging. This makes effective virtual team building more important than ever before.

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Virtual Team Examples

Virtual teams come in many different forms, and go by different names. This often depends on the overarching goal of the team and how long it will be formed for. Here are just a few examples of virtual teams:

Networked Teams

Networked teams are groups of people who are put together to share their knowledge and expertise in a certain area. Often, the number of people in a networked team fluctuates as certain members are added as and when their expertise is needed and leave when their expertise has been shared and is no longer required.

Parallel Teams

Parallel teams are often made up of people from the same organisation, and formed for a short period of time. Their goal is often to make recommendations in relation to a process or system.

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Virtual Team Examples

Product Development Teams

Product development teams are normally composed of a number of different individuals responsible for developing a new product. In some instances, all of these people might be based in the same place. However, a lot of the time, teams are pulled together from all over the work on the basis of their expertise and knowledge.

Management Teams

Management teams are made up of senior members of the same organisation. Often, these individuals are based in different regions, or even scattered across the globe and so meet virtually to discuss strategy.

These are just a few examples of virtual teams. There can be many reasons why a virtual team is put together. Sometimes this is permanent and sometimes this is more flexible or temporary. For example, a business may make the decision to ask staff to work remotely while offices are built or refurbished.

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What are the advantages of virtual teams?

There are a number of advantages of a virtual team. This includes:

  • Lower business costs – when working remotely members of the team can work from home or other location, therefore a physical office space is not needed.
  • Better work-life balance – virtual teams with members working from home can work more flexibly and achieve a better work-life balance.
  • Less time wasted – without the need for a daily commute, virtual teams are often more productive and efficient.
  • Better access to talent – When a company offers remote working, they can hire pretty much anyone in the world rather than being restricted to the local talent pool.
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What are the drawbacks to virtual teams?

While there are many advantages to running virtual teams, there are some disadvantages. This is particularly true if team members aren’t used to working from home or have issues accessing the technology they need to work effectively. Disadvantages of virtual teams include:

  • Limited access to technology – teams working remotely must have access to reliable technology and internet access to complete their work. Without this, working efficiently is impossible, as is communication between team members
  • Communication problems – Communicating solely via email or messaging apps can lead to miscommunication or misunderstanding
  • Lack of team bonding – Working in an office environment is very good at creating a sense of camaraderie. On the other hand, working remotely can present a barrier to teams getting to know one another and creating a collaborative environment
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Virtual Team Building from KDM Events

While these drawbacks can be quite difficult to navigate, it is possible to prevent them through effective virtual team building activities. To work together, remote teams should not only have the appropriate technology to complete their required roles and communicate with each other, but they should also be clear on what is required of them, how they should talk to one another, and how they can seek help if they aren’t sure on what they are doing.

Here at KDM Events, we are experts in team-building events and activities for all kinds of teams. Our virtual team building events are perfect for improving communication skills, team bonding, and effective working within your virtual teams. From fun quizzes and games to remote events, there’s a virtual event to suit everyone here at KDM and we would be delighted to support you in developing your team. Contact us today to find out more.

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Virtual Team Building'