2020 Skills: Virtual Collaboration

In this post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at collaborating virtually. 

Here is a handy index for accessing all posts in this series:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

In this era of super-structured organizations and increased globalization, virtual collaboration is emerging as one of the top work arrangements across different sectors.

 Work from home. Work from anywhere.  Work from home. Work from anywhere.

According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 115% since 2005. This means that 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time. Interestingly, it is employers in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions that, among a total of 7% of U.S. employers offering flexible working arrangements, offer the most work-from-home opportunities for employees.

The Institute for The Future (IFTF) included Virtual collaboration as one of the top skills that employees will require to become a productive contributor in the future. IFTF defines virtual collaboration as the ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate value in the virtual work environment.

Still, virtual teams have their fair share of challenges that they must overcome to become productive. Some of the challenges include

  • Communication issues – As the communication is not done in person, virtual team members must learn strategies for effective communication in a virtual environment
  • Shared Value issues – Teams with shared values and deeper bonds, tend to perform better than others. However, this might be a challenge for virtual teams, as they might feel difficult to connect with others in an effective way.
  • Mindless distractions – The virtual team members have to stay focused on their work. There could be many distractions, however, team members need to commit to giving attention during working hours.

Erin Meyer, Professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD, believes that to overcome these issues, we must think differently. The traditional methods to lead, build trust, make decisions, and communicate might not be effective in a virtual team environment. Professor Meyer also noted that managers of virtual teams need a different skill set to those with co-located teams.

Yale’s School of Management responded to this call for a different skill set for virtual teams, and in their course titled “Global Virtual Teams”, they taught skills that will help managers of the future to manage virtual teams more efficiently and effectively. These skills include

  • Build a collective identity –Build trust and avoid the “us-vs-them” mentality
  • Accept vulnerabilities – Accept risks that may come with trusting virtual team members
  • Avoid focus on common knowledge – Avoid talking about what is common, explore the unique value that every member could bring to the team.
  • Don’t make assumptions – Don’t fall prey to cultural stereotypes, access individuals based on their individual worth
  • Evaluate communication methods – Sort out the communication problem and create a method that is best suited to the current situation

So, how to train your virtual teams to become more efficient?

As virtual collaboration is emerging as a top work environment skill, video-based training is emerging as an effective method to train remote teams.

Our previous posts highlight the importance of video-based training and its value as an effective way to convey information.

Through video-based training, your team members can become equipped with strategies to be productive contributors to their virtual team. Furthermore, their communication skills and trust building skills may also be improved with interactive elements built into the training.

Contact us below to see how we can assist you to create a productive virtual team with our video-based training services.

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