Remote management

    Virtual teams have some undeniable benefits:

  • They remain close to their customers and markets and thus safeguard local buy-in
  • They offer specialist service which otherwise cannot be provided locally
  • They can accomplish more in 24 hours thanks to differences between time zones
  • They increase the probability of business continuity
  • They have access to a larger and more heterogenous talent pool
  • They can have lower operational costs

On the other hand, colleagues at the other end of the world do not speak the same language and have varying expectations of professional cooperation. It makes the so-called inner integration a challenge and delays the perception of joint identity and of a joint objective. With differences between time zones and increasing distance the situation becomes even more complex.

The requirements of multicultural teams are naturally identical with those of homogenous teams situated in a single location. Besides, the requirements arising from cultural diversity and from the members' various locations add up. The organization, as well as the members of such teams, should therefore be able to answer the following questions:

  • What must be done in support of the inner integration in the specific stages of the team's existence?
  • How is our team's work influenced by the culture of its members and how can we effectively benefit from the differences?
  • What are the team members' individual strengths and weaknesses in managing diversity and how can we develop?
  • To what extent are we influenced by the fact that we communicate in one or more foreign languages?
  • How are we influenced by geographical distance? How can we minimise its perception and how to benefit from it?

Similarly, virtual team leaders are expected to have the same competences as the leaders of regular teams. However, with geographical distance and cultural diversity, difficulties which arise in a traditional workplace can increase in frequency and vehemence. Even under such conditions, leaders must be able able to identify barriers quickly and intervene in order to maintain both the relationships and high productivity.

Some initial tips: The how-tos of remote management