Why Some Virtual Teams Are Successful And Others Fail

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the world into a giant remote working experiment. Early results from this experiment show that while some teams have really flourished in the new scenario, others have struggled. So what makes some teams work really well as a virtual unit while others fail? 

Here is a brief note on why this is the case. 

Inefficient Communication

Virtual teams, just like any other team, need to communicate and collaborate with each other. One of the main reasons why teams fail while collaborating virtually is because of inefficient communication tools.

Despite how far we have come with technology, latency and network connectivity issues still exist. As a result, many team members struggle to communicate seamlessly over phone calls or Zoom meetings. 

One way to fix this issue is by switching to a hybrid communication model. While real-time communication may be necessary once in a while, it is a good idea to move to non-real time communication channels like a chat system, email and Slack. 

These communication channels are more forgiving when a member faces a disruption to their communication channel. More importantly, they let team members work on their tasks without being  constantly interrupted by colleagues who need to talk.

Improper Use Of Tools

You need the right tools to succeed as a virtual team. While Slack, Zoom or other video conferencing tools are great, it is the use of applications that are specific to your industry and line of work that matter here.

Take Human Resources for example. In a regular setup, the HR may set up a meeting with team leads from various departments to discuss potential recruits and hiring processes. This can however get clumsy in a virtual setup.

You need an HRIS system that can let you collaborate virtually, add comments against various prospective recruits, share feedback, and synchronize the conversations between the applicants and various people in the hiring team so that you have a rounded view of the conversation.

In the absence of this, communication can get derailed and the hiring process could get incredibly chaotic and unproductive.

Lack Of Automation

Let’s face it – automation is not related specifically to virtual teams. As the technology for this becomes widely available, they are being used across various businesses and work processes. However, virtual teams face an increasing need for automation since doing them manually is prohibitively less productive than when it is done in an office setup. 

One reason why automation can improve virtual team productivity better is because they do away with workflows that are hindered by a remote working workforce. With automation, you no longer have to wade through different time zones for the relevant team member to execute their tasks. 

Automation can help you execute tasks as they are planned. There are some areas where automation is absolutely essential. Marketing is one such example. By automating your email marketing campaigns, you can schedule your messages at the time that is most relevant for your recipients and this can be done regardless of which timezones your team members operate from. It’s not just about productivity, but also about better results when the campaigns are automated. 

Automation can also bring better results in other departments like hiring, customer service and sales. When team members work out of different time zones, manual exchanges can take longer to process. Automation frees up your team’s bandwidth and helps them focus on tasks that are less operational and more strategic. 

Inefficient Lead Acquisition Strategy

Sales is a lot of work. Success here comes from the rapport you build with the buyer during the prospecting stage. But as the business world has switched to remote working, the challenges for sellers have only increased. 

For one, chat or video calls simply do not have the same impact as a face-to-face meeting. Add to this, the issues with network connectivity and latency would mean that your ability to convince a prospective client diminishes quite significantly. 

It is hence important to pivot to other lead acquisition strategies. Many organizations are putting more focus on marketing since that garners inbound enquiries as compared to sales where the conversation is outbound. In a virtual setting, strategies like webinars and video marketing work wonders since they captivate the target group with information that they seek and capture leads in the process. 

There are plenty of webinar software applications to choose from – and they all offer the ability to capture leads, seamlessly organize webinars that are attended by hundreds of guests, and the ability to record and replay these sessions. You can, in fact, merge your webinar and video marketing strategy to establish a seamless inbound marketing process. 

Now, over to you – are you part of a virtual team that is successful? Share what you do that makes you successful in the comments below.