Virtual teams: Tips for leading virtual teams and digital collaboration

Gina Schumacher

With the introduction of hybrid working, working in virtual teams is also coming into play. This means that teams not only work together in the office but also online and remotely. Discover 5 useful tips on how you can make digital collaboration more straightforward.

What are virtual teams?

Virtual teams are working groups whose members are geographically separated from each other and collaborate using digital communication technologies. Unlike traditional teams, which are physically located in one place, virtual teams can be spread across different locations, time zones, and even countries. Digital cooperation usually takes place via online platforms, video conferencing, chat applications, and shared digital workspaces. So, virtual teams enable organizations to benefit from global talent while offering flexibility in work design.

What are the benefits of virtual teams?

Global networking enables companies to bring together experts from different parts of the world in one team. This allows specific skills and knowledge to be optimally utilized, resulting in more efficient project implementation. International teams also bring with them a wealth of cultural and professional backgrounds and therefore diverse perspectives. This diversity promotes creative thinking and innovative solutions, as different perspectives can lead to better decisions. Of course, virtual teams can also be formed within national borders. Finally, virtual collaboration enables companies to reduce their physical space and the associated costs. Travel costs and office space can be minimized while still ensuring an effective exchange.

What are the disadvantages of virtual teams?

One of the biggest disadvantages of virtual collaboration is the lack of personal contact between employees. As a result, trust between the team cannot be properly established, which is a basic prerequisite for successful collaboration. Furthermore, the lack of personal contact can lead to misunderstandings. Different time zones make synchronized communication difficult, which can lead to delays and information gaps.

Tips on leading virtual teams

Successfully leading virtual teams requires specific skills and strategies to ensure collaboration and productivity. Here are five tips that can help to promote digital collaboration:

1. Clear communication is key

In virtual teams, clear communication is the key to success. Use suitable communication tools that enable transparent and effective interaction. Platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom not only offer chat and video functions but also the option of sharing information and documents centrally. Clear communication guidelines ensure that all team members are informed and on the same page.

2. Plan virtual meetings strategically

Virtual meetings can be efficient if they are well-planned. Set clear agendas and objectives for each meeting to ensure that time is used wisely. Reduce the number of participants to the minimum necessary to encourage interactivity. Make sure meetings don't run unnecessarily long - short, focused meetings are often more effective and less tiring.

A virtual meeting is taking place where people participate in digital collaboration.

3. Use suitable team collaboration tools

Choosing the right collaboration tools is crucial for the success of virtual teams. Projects, tasks, and documents should be managed centrally and easily accessible. Tools such as Asana, Trello, or Microsoft 365 offer comprehensive functions for collaborating on tasks, sharing documents, and tracking project progress.

4. Strengthen team loyalty

Virtual teams can sometimes feel isolated. Strengthen team bonding through virtual team events, regular informal meetings, or joint projects. Create a space for informal conversations to promote the social aspect. A strong team feeling helps to strengthen motivation and collaboration in virtual environments.

5. Promoting flexibility and adaptability

The adaptability of virtual teams is crucial, as work processes and requirements can change constantly. Encourage a culture of flexibility and support team members to adapt quickly to new ways of working. Regular feedback sessions can help to identify challenges and find solutions together.

Flexible working with Flexopus - the desk-sharing solution

The Flexopus Desk-Sharing App is shown.

One option that stands out from purely virtual teams is hybrid teams. In hybrid teams, employees can decide daily whether they prefer to work from the office or home. Desk sharing plays a crucial role in hybrid offices, especially in times when the number of employees exceeds the number of available workstations. Desk sharing is also beneficial for virtual teams, as long as the employer provides physical offices. Through occasional visits to the office, remote team members can maintain personal contact and coordinate their presence at the same time, for example by booking their workstation and meeting rooms via Flexopus, the leading desk-sharing provider in the DACH region.

Conclusion: Can digital collaboration work in virtual teams?

At a time when digital collaboration is increasingly present, these tips are essential to making virtual teams more efficient. Through clear communication, strategic meetings, effective tools, increased team engagement, and adaptability, you can create the foundation for successful collaboration, regardless of physical distance. Use these tips to strengthen your virtual team and optimize digital collaboration.

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Markus Merkle
Sales manager