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Virtual teams are a fact of business life for most of us and running them effectively is fast becoming a major challenge. And the challenge is only getting bigger, according to a 2011 Forrester survey of large companies – including many in the Fortune 500. More than half of those surveyed by Forrester (56%) expect virtual teams to increase over the next couple of years. An almost equal number (57%) said earning trust is a key hurdle for managers of virtual teams.

There’s a widespread view in business that virtual teams are managed badly. Building relationship is perhaps the biggest challenge. Other issues cited in recent studies include: difficulty in building a shared sense of purpose; over-reliance on electronic communications; low team cohesion and trust; and the general sense that virtual team members are less satisfied with the team experience than team members in the same location.

There is good news though: Many companies across the business spectrum are discovering how to make virtual teams work. What’s more, they’re learning that the key to success lies beyond a reliance on the latest & greatest technology platforms and tools.

Of course, technology is vital to connecting virtual teams. Let’s assume that your company has all the latest and greatest tools. What else is necessary to help virtual teams get excellent results? It turns out that a good, time-honored focus on interpersonal skills and process discipline – the nuts and bolts of collaboration – is key to driving strong results from virtual teams.