In the wake of the nightmare that is 2020, we’re all learning new ways to make it through our day (as best as we can). Many of these changes have been frustrating, but some of them have been pleasant surprises that may be here to stay. One such pleasure is working with virtual teams.
Many freelancers and forward-thinking companies are familiar with the advantages that virtual teams present, while others are still struggling with the growing pains of transition. So, if you’re teetering on the brink of for or against, here are 12 advantages of working with a virtual team.
Working with a remote team in a virtual workspace is hugely beneficial in terms of cost-efficiency. Instead of paying to rent out a depressing office building with fluorescents or an overpriced San Francisco startup space with beanbags everywhere, why not pocket the money and apply it to your actual business? Your organization will grow in more meaningful ways and you could give your employees a one-time stipend to set up a home office for a fraction of the cost. No more paying for a professional to come to unclog the kitchen sink because Derek uses it as a garbage can.
2. Best talent
By opening yourself up to a virtual team, you’re able to extend your reach far and wide for the best possible candidates. There could be someone in another state or country who has the perfect skill set to grow your business, but you’re missing out because you’re landlocked to a specific zip code.
3. More productive
One thing you may remember from the olden days (2019) is the exhaustion of unnecessary meetings. Who hasn’t felt that a meeting could be summarized in a concise email, rather than a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation? In a virtual team, the excess is trimmed down to avoid bogging everyone down in unnecessary communications.
4. Happy employees
If you’re able to provide your team with a healthy work-life balance, you’ll save them from burnout and you’ll probably have a stronger commitment from them. Perhaps they have children or pets: by cutting out their commute and giving them more face-time with the important people in their lives, you’re setting up a system that works for their unique lifestyles. It’s more accommodating to teammates trying to ‘have it all’ and it increases the perspective that the organization has the employees’ best interests in mind.
5. Build a healthier and more productive team
Personally, I get more sleep on a remote schedule. I am less tired during the day because I can essentially roll out of bed and walk 7 feet to my desk- no more waking up 2 hours before my shift so I can beat traffic. I also have time to cook healthier meals for myself and I don’t have to worry about them leaking into my work bag during the commute. I have time to workout, sometimes on my lunch break! All of these lend to more energetic and productive employees, who are far less likely to take a sick day because they’re taking better care of themselves. Yes, I am still picking at my fridge every 30 minutes, but the pros outweigh the cons.
6. More adaptable
This year, some companies took to virtual teams more quickly than others. I’ve had the opportunity to work with two companies with very different success rates. One of them had no resources in place to work remotely, and they were entirely unprepared. Productivity was low and things were communicated poorly, leading to frequent misunderstandings. The other team I worked with was quicker to embrace the virtual lifestyle and recognized it was here to stay. This flexibility prevented any hiccups in workflow and they’ve just had their best quarter to date. By familiarizing yourself with virtual teams, you’re setting yourself up for success in the future, and whatever it may bring.
7. Better communication
When you’re not able to swivel your chair around and tap a colleague on the shoulder, you take the time to be more conscious of your communications. How do you keep things concise and clear so you’re understood? It’s a skill that you develop over time, and virtual teams provide the opportunity to improve. Maybe the improvement takes place in your emails, meetings, or your training materials. Either way, you’ll walk away with a stronger team.
(If you are in need of some communication improvement, here’s an article to get you started.)
8. Skill development and software
Working with a virtual team often means embracing new tools to be more effective. Maybe that’s a communication tool like Slack or a project management tool like Asana (a step up from the departmental whiteboard). Familiarity with new softwares is great for personal development and will make your team more competitive in the long-run.
9. Availability around the clock
By having a virtual team, you’re able to capitalize on increased availability. Maybe Trevor, your content strategist, doubles as a Zumba instructor and needs mornings off. You might have international staff who can be available in the middle of the night. By having a broader range of hours, the workday doesn’t have to end at 5 and you open yourself up to more opportunities.
10. Fewer office politics
Imagine an office where the press of your slacks and the quality of your fake laugh don’t factor into your success. A benefit of virtual teams is that communication and focus are directed on being productive; there are no accidental interactions as you stroll between cubicles. If you’re connecting with the team, it’s not for the miscellaneous water-cooler talk. You can let the quality of your work outshine your ability to play the game.
11. Greater Scalability
If your team is managing to succeed, why should something like office space bog you down? Maybe you’re seeing tremendous growth, but you’re stuck in a lease that won’t accommodate new hires till your lease is up? A huge benefit of virtual teams is that you’re more scalable and quick to embrace growth, or conversely, the adoption of a more nimble team.
12. Amusing Zoom moments
I think we’ve all been able to crack a smile at those special Zoom moments: someone’s kids busting in during a meeting, a teammate trying to use the platform to tremendous failure, someone forgetting to mute themselves at unfortunate moments… it’s the little things.