You have Slack. You have email. You have Zoom meetings, FaceTime, and WhatsApp. Today’s technology offers unprecedented connectivity. But for virtual teams, physical disconnectedness still creates major challenges.
For many virtual teams, communication mishaps, incongruent tasks, overlapping work processes, and lack of transparency are the norm. And that makes delivering high-quality work fast nearly impossible.
The key to success for virtual teams is not adding another weekly conference call. It’s helping them prevent these challenges altogether by developing the following traits:
It’s easy to remember – ACE.
In this post, we’ll go over why these traits are essential for virtual teams and how to cultivate them with a Work OS. But first, let’s talk about the challenges virtual teams face.
Evolved systems of work breed new obstacles
While traditional leadership hierarchies remain largely intact, organizational structures have evolved from top-down formations to more decentralized and distributed systems.
This shift is driven by the need to accelerate the pace of work and more effectively cater to customer needs. Unlike traditional structures, distributed systems have fewer tiers of leadership.
Instead, they have smaller, mission-oriented teams to better enable decision-making, agility, and individual contribution. For example, as start-up companies grow, many adopt distributed systems to facilitate faster execution and individual contribution.
Distributed systems also make it possible for individuals, teams and entire departments to function remotely.
No one feels this harder than virtual teams, where lack of physical proximity intensifies these obstacles.
Overcoming the inevitable challenges of virtual teams
When teams are spread around the country or the world, how can they keep processes and tasks aligned? How can they manage effective communication across continents and time zones? How can they keep physical silos from worsening information silos?
Solid leadership, feedback, and talent will always be important. But to thrive in today’s fast-paced work environment, virtual teams must have these core traits:
When owning their role, responsibilities, and deliverables, employees will be more motivated to produce their highest-quality work. In virtual teams, where greater autonomy is common, having a strong sense of accountability is key to high performance.
Collaboration is at the heart of modern work. As organizations continually add new tools to their digital arsenal, teamwork, coordination, and information sharing have become more important. For virtual teams, collaboration forges crucial ties and helps disparate stakeholders stay aligned on goals and initiatives.
Highly engaged employees produce better business outcomes than those who aren’t engaged, according to Gallup. In fast-paced work environments, engagement is a prerequisite for speed, teamwork, and execution.Engagement also breeds feelings of positivity and helps teams become more unified. For virtual teams, a culture of cohesion and mutual support can make a significant positive impact on the quality of work.
Bridging virtual teams with the rest of the organization
How can organizations help their virtual teams cultivate these traits and take on the challenges of today’s dispersed, fast-paced work environment?
The solution is having a system that serves as a single source of truth. By sharing one central work system, organizations can facilitate greater alignment, teamwork, and efficiency.
A Work Operating System (Work OS) serves as the nerve center in a distributed system of work.
A Work OS is a cloud-based software platform where users can create custom workflow apps that manage all teams and functions across the organization. When virtual teams can seamlessly view, plan, run, and track processes and projects with others throughout the organization, they are more aligned — and can work faster to achieve their goals.
Work OS: The platform that has accountability, engagement, and collaboration built-in
Using a Work OS will automatically raise accountability, engagement, and collaboration in virtual teams. Here’s how:
- It houses and integrates with key information systems (think: CRMs, ERPs, analytics platforms, etc.), so all team members have access to relevant system data. Bridging over data silos and simplifying information sharing is fundamental to collaboration and engagement.
- It helps everyone stay on the same page about goals, KPIs, projects, and who owns what. With increased visibility into team data, current tasks, and status updates, each team member will naturally become more accountable for their part.
- It enables streamlined communication, making it easier to collaborate and share status updates.
- It allows you to build apps and automate workflows to create more efficient processes and fulfill unmet needs.
- With improved coordination, virtual teams can identify redundant processes and overlapping initiatives that waste time and resources. They can also easily manage joint projects that fulfill mutual goals.
Gear up for the future of work
In 2019, Owl Labs surveyed full-time workers in their State of Remote Work and found that 30% of their respondents worked remotely full-time. Seven percent worked remotely at least three times per week. And as more and more teams shift to remote work, those numbers will grow exponentially.
Distributed systems of work both within and beyond the office walls are here to stay. To succeed, virtual teams need tools that help them increase speed and agility.
With a Work OS, accountability, collaboration, and engagement become second nature — and everything else falls into place.