Watch the video above and talk about it with a group or mentor. Learn more.

The business world is expanding beyond the boardroom to reach the corners of the earth - thanks to the Internet. This introduces unique challenges for businesses.

Key Points:

  • Virtual teams are here and they’re not going anywhere. Companies and teams must learn to leverage technology, the Internet, and communication to be efficient and successful in today’s business world.
  • Try the following tips for maintaining successful communication between virtual and physical team members:
  • Test the technology. Over 50% of virutal teams experience some form of technological breakdown. This is called the Lowest Common Denominator (LCD) Effect. If one person can’t connect it brings the whole team down. As the old saying goes, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Reduce technical difficulties as much as possible.
  • Schmooze or lose. Virtual teams need an initial face-to-face experience or at least a phone call. There has to be some form of human connection between team members, even if virtual workers spend 95% of their time away from the physical office.
  • Humanize team members. Video conferences are ideal for virtual teamwork. If you need to, put up photos of the virtual team members.¬†Without this key element of human connection, teams will be less efficient. Team members will not trust one another and conflicts that would otherwise be avoidable will becoming stifling.
  • Look in the mirror – literally! North Americans who had to work in front of a mirror were less likely to cheat and were more self-critical. The real point is self-reflection, and a mirror on your desk is a physical manifestation of this principle. If human connection is difficult because of physical distance, a mirror can be helpful for encouraging team members to be accountable.
  • Consider a “cave and commons” design. The “cave” is the place for individuals to go to think alone and develop novel ideas. The “commons” is the place for team members to come together and develop solutions as a group or to debate ideas. The best teams know when to work individually and when to come together as a group.

Quote This:

Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader. -Indra Nooyi

See Also: Communication, Teams, Technology, Workplace

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. Do you have virtual team members in your business? If so, why were these team members chosen to work virtually rather than physically?
  3. What are some pros and cons of working with virtual team members? Explain.
  4. Consider the LCD Effect. How has technology helped or hindered working with virtual team members?
  5. Why is it important to provide a sense of human connection between physical and virtual team members? How can you help facilitate this in your team/company?
  6. Talk about the “cave and commons” method. In what ways would this philosophy hinder or improve your team’s work?
  7. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.