Virtual teams have real (communication) problems. How to fix them?

Virtual teams have real (communication) problems. How to fix them?

“Due to lack of team skills you are not a suitable candidate for the position.“ Not many HR specialists would write something as blunt and straightforward, but it could very well be the truth. Over the last few years, many firms who are looking to hire new people are focused more on soft skills rather than knowledge.

One of these highly appreciated skills is the ability of the newcomer to adapt to an already established team. Some organizations are still looking mainly for workers who have a high level of theoretical knowledge and expect everyone to be on the same level when it comes to working cooperation and communication.

After all, they say, the universities and high schools should take care of this, too. Unfortunately, they don’t know that these educational institutions put almost all the focus on the individual and the testing of skills and knowledge of each student.

Although the situation in some educational fields is improving, when recruiting, companies should not rely solely on the candidate’s formal education. It’s a good idea to look at extracurricular activities of the candidate and see if they are used to work in, or even lead, a team.

The company itself can contribute to the development of its employees' soft skills. One possibility is to organize a team building for its employees focused specifically on developing certain skills, such as communication, team cooperation and more.

Home-office, Digital nomads and more

In the 21st century, the number of people working for a company as an external cooperator has grown. Companies often hire freelancers who never even physically came to the office. They don’t need to. They work remotely from their homes, cafes, offices, coworking spaces here or abroad.

Something even our parent and grandparents struggle to understand, this sudden increase in mobility has been made possible by modern technology. It‘s no problem to organize a video conference of colleagues from around the world – if you don’t mind some will be drinking their morning coffee and others digesting dinner.

IT companies were the pioneers of the home-office - the possibility of working from home for some days. The IT managers understood, that work done is work done, no matter where (and when) it happens. Previously, having the option of the home office was an interesting benefit, but today they are becoming commonplace.

On the one hand, this confidence in the employee's ability to work remotely boosts the individual's performance. But it also brings some risks. One of them is that in such a diverse and scattered team, the effectivity of communication is decreasing.

It is typical for members of such a team to be unable to establish real relationships with other team members. Psychologists and HR experts add that face-to-face contact is a key element in establishing mutual trust within the team.

Virtual teams also need team building

Poor internal communication initially leads to small misunderstandings, delays of forgetting of minor tasks. However, if this problem is left untreated, it can have a more serious impact on the company. What starts as a reluctance to cooperate with someone remotely can end with a drastically reduced performance of one or more team members.

The solution is not necessarily to cancel the home office for all employees and ban all external cooperation. It would only mean going a few years back and trust us, employees don’t like to have their benefits taken away. A much better way is to support the workers to earn mutual trust and learn how to cooperate more effectively.

Usually, a team building, properly set up by professionals, can solve this problem easily. Calling each other on Skype is great, but companies now know nothing beats organizing a company team building event where all the team players can meet face to face. It might look daunting and overly complicated, but it is worth it and a good team building agency will make it an awesome experience for everyone.

Poor communication creates big misunderstandings

It seems like today‘s is the virtualization of work teams - enabling employees to be locally independent of the workplace. Have you ever heard of digital nomads? Yes, that’s what we are talking about. However, a team that does not meet each other daily and does not have face-to-face meetings may later have problems with communication and mutual trust.

To avoid these problems in your organization, make sure to involve both regular and virtual employees in the team building event.