The office of the future might not be an office at all.
As virtual teams become more prevalent, “going to work” increasingly will mean logging into work remotely or collaborating with people in different physical locations.
But too often, say authors Darleen DeRosa and Rick Lepsinger, these virtual teams fail to succeed because managers treat them the same as they do teams that share the same physical location.
“That doesn’t work,” says DeRosa, who coauthored “Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading from a Distance,” with Lepsinger. “Virtual teams and face-to-face teams are the proverbial ‘apples and oranges.’ Leaders who recognize this fact are the ones whose teams succeed.”
The authors studied 48 virtual teams to understand why some virtual teams succeed and others don’t. They found that unsuccessful virtual teams regularly fall victim to four pitfalls:
1. Lack of clear goals, direction, or priorities. Because it’s harder to communicate with and inform team members who are geographically dispersed, it’s often difficult to keep all team members focused on the same goals, especially over time.
2. Lack of clear roles among team members. In virtual teams, it’s especially important for team members to understand their individual roles and how their work affects other team members.
3. Lack of cooperation and trust. It’s harder to establish trust and relationships in a virtual environment. Over time, lack of collaboration can lead to a lack of trust among team members.
4. Lack of engagement. People can become bored and “check out” when there’s no dynamic, face-to-face interaction.
Eliminate these pitfalls and a team’s chances for success greatly increase. DeRosa and Lepsinger identify six lessons—excerpted from the book—for creating successful virtual teams.
Next: Six ways to create successful virtual teams