What Is a Virtual Team? Definition & Examples


2020-07-24 07:30 project manager


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“Virtual team” is an odd phrase. It sounds like something that only exists in a digital alternate reality. But virtual teams are very much a reality, and they’re becoming more prevalent with each passing day. A virtual team is no longer an outlier. Organizations have realized the benefit of using technology to look beyond their local community for talent. It’s almost become the norm—and of course, the whole virtual trend has been boosted by the recent pandemic. Regardless, it’s clear that virtual teams are here to stay. You’ve likely worked on one or are thinking about initiating one in your company. Great! But there are considerations to be made as you weigh your decision. The first, and perhaps the highest, is understanding what virtual teams are and why they’ve gained such popularity so quickly. What Is a Virtual Team? A virtual team is a group of workers who communicate and work together using digital tools. While they can be located in the same physical space, virtual teams are often distributed, working remotely in different parts of the city, state or country—even on the other side of the world! There are other names for virtual teams, such as “geographically dispersed teams” or “remote teams,” but they all mean the same thing: people working together without being physically together. They do this through the use of online tools, such as project management software, to communicate and collaborate. Because of the distance between virtual teams, it is imperative that they develop trust in the group and foster good communications in order to avoid costly misunderstandings. This can be a high hurdle to clear, as people tend to bond in person. But, there are virtual project management techniques that can help. Virtual Teams Are Trending According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since 2019, 22% of U.S. workers are working from home, while 50% are working in some capacity with virtual teams. That’s a staggering number! It’s only going to rise as organizations become more comfortable with virtual teams, and as teams demand greater flexibility. Workers want work-life balance and organizations want to expand their net in capturing talent. And sometimes larger forces make working from home the only way to keep a company functioning. Whatever the reason, the need for virtual teams is spiking, but the knowledge of what a virtual team is and how to build, lead and manage one is lagging. There’s no time like the present for a crash course in virtual teams! Examples of Virtual Teams Not all virtual teams are the same. There are several varieties, which depend on the lifespan, objective, goals and roles of the team members. Some of them follow. Networked Teams A networked team is made up of cross-functional team members who are assembled because of their experience and skills on a specific issue. The team is open to new members as needed, and those already on the team are removed after their role is completed. Parallel Teams A parallel team comes from the same organization, and is tasked to develop recommendations on a process or system. They are usually only together for a short time, with all members staying on board until they’ve achieved their assigned goal. Product Development Teams A product development team is a group that is brought together because of their expertise at accomplishing a specific goal. The members of this team get clearly defined roles and work independently, with their collective work combined to achieve the end goal. While not always a virtual team, when those experts are situated in different states or countries, they become virtual. Service Teams A service team is made up of members who occupy different time zones. They work independently. However, their shifts overlap to offer continual service. So, for example, when one shift is complete on the East Coast, the West Coast team takes over their duties. Management Teams A management team is a collection of managers from the same organization. While they often work under the same roof, if they work in different places, they become a virtual team. Management teams work together to develop corporate strategies based on organizational goals and objectives. Related: 7 Tips for a Smooth Virtual Meeting Action Teams An action team is put together for a short duration and is tasked with responding to an immediate problem. Once that problem has been resolved, the team is dissolved. As with the last example, an action team is not exclusively virtual. But as people become more familiar with working with virtual teams, the use of them increases beyond the traditional use. Why Should I Start a Virtual Team? While we touched on some of the reasons why virtual teams are becoming more accepted, let’s take a moment to dive a bit deeper into this trend. The growth of the global economy is one of the pillars propping up the need for virtual teams. International companies often have offices in different countries, often working on the same projects. Because of the developments of the last two decades, virtual teams are becoming increasingly more common. According to a 2019 study by IWG, 70% of professionals work remotely in some capacity at least once a week, with 53% doing so for half the week. Innovative Atmosphere There are also internal forces that are driving the move to virtual teamwork. According to the Harvard Business Review, virtual teams are more engaged than those who are working in the same location. That may sound counter-intuitive, but according to the research, working in the same office creates tends to create complacency—especially for team leaders. But when managers are not physically present, they make more of an effort to connect. Financially Prudent Virtual teams are also a potential financial windfall for organizations. They don’t have to set up additional infrastructure in places where they want to have a footprint. Renting out a physical space might not be necessary, so a virtual team can be a cost-effective alternative. The absence of a physical office also eliminates some common problems companies face. This can include Acts of God Governmental policy changes, like visa regulations Political or medical emergencies that make it difficult-to-impossible for team members to move about Virtual teams keep everyone working and productive. That prevents an organization from having to add to its payroll with new hires, too. How ProjectManager.com Helps Virtual Teams If you’re ready to take the plunge into the world of virtual teams, you’re going to need the tools that help you manage your team and give them the features they need to work together better. ProjectManager.com is an award-winning software that has everything you need to support a virtual team. Stay Connected Anywhere By definition, a virtual team must be connected to the internet. It only makes sense that the software they use isn’t only accessible on their desktop. If it is, you’re going to have to invest in other software to connect the team, which is an inefficient waste of time and money. Our software is cloud-based, meaning it’s accessible anywhere, anytime. Teams need to collaborate, whether they’re in the same room or working virtually. Without connecting team members, you might as well hang up the whole virtual team experiment. We give teams the tools they need to connect. Every task they’re assigned to can be commented on, and they’ll be notified by email when there’s a response. Even if they need to talk with someone not assigned to the task, all they have to do is tag them. Everyone is on the same page. Stay Informed Without Hassle When you’re managing a virtual team there’s a tendency to become overbearing, looking over their virtual shoulders and micromanaging. But that can backfire, sapping productivity and eroding morale. Our software gives you transparency into the process. You get updated on our project dashboard view instantly as statuses on tasks change. There’s so much more that ProjectManager.com offers to help virtual teams. We have features that assist from planning to execution, monitoring and controlling, even reporting on the project for stakeholders. See how our software can help you manage and support your virtual teams today by taking this free 30-day trial. 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“虚拟团队”听起来很奇怪,像是只存在于替代现实的数字世界里的东西。但它是切实存在的,而且正变得越来越普遍。 虚拟团队不再是局外物。各种组织机构已经意识到利用技术寻找当地社区以外人才的好处,这几乎成了常态,当然,最近的新冠疫情推动了走向虚拟的趋势。 无论如何,很明显虚拟团队已成为常态。可能你已经成立过虚拟团队,或者你的公司正在考虑成立一个。这很棒!但是在你做出决定时,还需要考虑一些东西。第一,也可能是最重要的一点,就是了解什么是虚拟团队,为什么它们这么快就变得如此受欢迎。 什么是虚拟团队? 虚拟团队是一群使用数字工具进行交流和共同工作的人。虽然他们可以处于同一个物理空间内,但虚拟团队的成员往往是分散的,在城市、州或国家的不同地方,甚至在世界的另一端远程工作! 虚拟团队还有其他的称呼,比如“地理上分散的团队”或“远程团队”,但意思都是一样的:人们虽然在一起工作却身处异地。他们通过使用项目管理等在线工具进行沟通和协作。 由于虚拟团队成员之间存在距离,所以他们必须建立对团队的信任,促进良好的沟通,以避免误解,造成损失。这可能是一个很难清除的障碍,因为人们更倾向于面对面交流。但是,有一些虚拟项目管理技术可以帮得上忙。 虚拟团队是一种趋势 根据美国劳工统计局的数据,自2019年以来,22%的美国工人在家工作,50%的人以各种身份与虚拟团队合作,这个数据十分惊人! 随着组织机构越来越适应虚拟团队,以及团队需要更大的灵活性,这个数字将只增不减。 员工希望实现工作与生活的平衡,而组织机构则希望扩大人才网。有时一些外在力量使得在家工作成为维持公司运转的唯一方式。 不管出于什么原因,对虚拟团队的需求正在激增,但是对于什么是虚拟团队,以及如何建立、领导和管理虚拟团队方面的认识却是滞后的。没有比现在更适合成立虚拟团队速成班的时候了! 虚拟团队示例 并不是所有的虚拟团队都如出一辙。虚拟团队的类型取决于团队的有效期、目的,以及成员的目标和角色。请看以下几种类型的虚拟团队。 网络团队 网络团队由职能各异的成员组成,这些成员因具有特定方面的经验和技能而被组织起来。团队根据需要吸收新成员,旧成员完成工作后将退出团队。 平行团队 平行团队的成员来自同一个组织,任务是对流程或系统提出建议。他们在一起工作的时间通常较短,所有的成员都待在一起,直到达成指定的目标。 产品开发团队 产品开发团队是由一群具有某个方面专业知识的人组成的。该团队的成员扮演的角色十分明确,并且独立工作,他们的工作汇集起来就可以实现最终目标。虽然并不总是虚拟团队,但当这些专家位于不同的州或国家时,这个团队就变成了虚拟团队。 服务团队 服务团队是由处于不同时区的成员组成的,虽然独立工作,但是他们的工作时间会有所重叠以连续提供服务。例如,东海岸的成员轮班结束后,西海岸的成员会接管他们的工作。 管理团队 管理团队的成员是来自同一个组织机构的经理。虽然他们通常在同一个屋檐下工作,但一旦身处各地进行工作时,就变成了一个虚拟的团队。管理团队一起工作,根据组织的目标制定公司战略。 相关信息:7个帮助虚拟会议顺利进行的小窍门 行动团队 行动团队是短期组成的,任务是解决紧迫问题。一旦问题解决,团队就会解散。与管理团队一样,行动团队并不完全是虚拟的。随着人们越来越熟悉与虚拟团队一起工作,虚拟团队将逐渐用于非传统目的。 我为什么要成立一个虚拟团队? 我们谈到了虚拟团队越来越受欢迎的一些原因,现在让我们花点时间深入探讨一下这一趋势。全球经济的增长是虚拟团队需求居高不下的原因之一。国际公司通常在不同的国家设有从事相同项目的办事处。 得益于过去二十年的发展,虚拟团队变得越来越普遍。根据IWG 2019年的一项研究,70%的专业人士每周至少以某种身份远程工作一次,其中53%的人每周工作一半时间。 创新氛围 还有一些内在动力在驱使向虚拟团队合作的转变。根据《哈佛商业评论》的报道,相比在同一个地点工作的团队,虚拟团队的工作更加投入。这听起来可能有悖常理,但根据这项研究,在同一个办公室工作往往会产生自满情绪,尤其是团队领导。但当他们不在场时,则会更加努力地与团队成员取得联系。 财务谨慎 虚拟团队对于组织机构来说可能是一个意外之财。它们不必在想要涉足的地方建立额外的基础设施。租用实际空间也许没有必要,因此虚拟团队可能是一种性价比很高的替代方案。 没有实体办公室也避免了公司面临的一些常见问题,可能包括 天灾 政府政策的改变,如签证政策 政治上或医疗上的紧急情况,使团队成员的行动变得困难或者不能行动 虚拟团队让每个成员都能高效地工作。这样,组织机构就不必雇佣新员工。 ProjectManager.com如何帮助虚拟团队 如果你已经准备好进入虚拟团队的世界,那么你将需要一些工具来帮助自己管理团队,并为成员提供提高协同工作效率所需的功能。ProjectManager.com是一个屡获嘉奖的软件,它拥有维护虚拟团队所需的一切要点。 在任何地方都保持联系 虚拟团队的定义说明,该团队必须使用互联网。只有当团队成员使用的软件不仅可以在桌面上访问时虚拟团队才有意义。如果是这样的话,你将不得不使用其他软件将团队成员联系在一起,这不仅浪费金和时间,而且效率低下。我们的软件是基于云端的,这意味着可以随时随地访问。 团队需要协作,不管是在同一个房间还是虚拟工作。如果不能将团队成员联系起来,你不妨打消成立虚拟团队的念头。 我们为团队提供联系成员所需的工具。成员分配到的每一项任务都可以被评论,有回复时,他们会收到电子邮件通知。即使他们需要和没有被分配到任务的人交流,他们只需要给这些人打上标签即可。大家的进度是一致的。 无需烦恼就可保持消息灵通 在管理一个虚拟团队时,你会有变得专横的倾向,在虚拟中监督成员并进行微观管理。但这可能适得其反,降低生产力,削弱士气。我们的软件为你提供透明的工作过程。一旦任务的状态发生变化,会立即在我们的项目仪表板视图上更新。 ProjectManager.com还能为虚拟团队提供其他帮助。我们的功能包括为计划、执行、监督、控制,甚至为涉众报告项目提供帮助。查看我们的软件如何帮助你管理和维护虚拟团队,点击此处获取30天的免费试用。 虚拟项目管理:优势,挑战与工具 什么是看板? 定义和示例 开发角色:开发团队的剖析 如何组建团队