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Hacks for Improved Virtual Teams

The future of work seems to be moving from physically being present in an office to working remotely. In the face of globalization, cloud computing, internet, and mobile, virtual teams are a reality that businesses can never run away from. In addition, the aforementioned factors improve virtual team communication and thus the success of virtual team operation. According to 34% of the Business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London, 50% of their workforce would be working remotely by the year 2020. An additional 25% said that more than ¾ of their staff will not be working in any traditional office come 2020.

The factors driving the trend of virtual teams

Globalization is affecting the way companies are recruiting and retaining skilled workforce. Companies that are able to balance their employees’ needs with their business needs can maintain a competitive edge in the race for talent. Here’s a look at the factors that are driving this trend of virtual teams:

  • Increased competition for talent

Many thought the high unemployment rates would create a talent surplus. However, this is not true. There is a shortage of great talent in critical positions. Work flexibility is a deciding factor for one in every three workers considered to be a top talent. This statistics is higher among millennials as well as family people who do not have children.

  • Attracting digital natives

Generation Y (the digital natives) will dominate the workforce in the coming years. Their acquaintance with mobile technologies as well as online collaboration tools – factors which are already transforming the way businesses operate – makes it so natural for them to work remotely. Millennials consider flexible working conditions as a key retention factor for any organization. A research by Deloitte confirms that 88% of millennials wish to have work flexibility.

Adam Henderson of Millennial Mindset also asserts the need for consideration of virtual teams in the following quote: “A flexible approach to work also helps businesses retain their best talent as they are giving their employees an option to do great work, but in a way that fits their lifestyles, providing a win-win scenario for all.”

  • Workplace disruption

According to data cited by Gallup, 43% of Americans worked remotely at least part of the time. In this open talent economy, employees are no longer bound by location. The new phenomenon is already redefining the 9-to-5 workday program and research confirms that remote workers are more productive and log in more hours than those in the office.

Advantages and disadvantages

Now that we’ve looked at the reasons behind the implementation of virtual teams, let’s take a look at the advantages and the disadvantages of creating a virtual team.

First up are the advantages:

  1. Cost saving – This is the biggest advantage virtual teams bring to the table. They require no huge office expenses like real estate,...
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The Future of Work: How to Choose Your Online Collaboration Tool

We can no longer turn a blind eye to the question of collaboration, especially given that more than 34% of the US workforce is already a virtual workforce, and 50% of the workforce is being projected to be virtual by 2020. For instance, how would you launch a new product with designers in Chicago, the marketing team in Paris, and engineers in Berlin? How do you get all of the participants reading from the same page when they are not in one room? Online collaboration tools provide the answers to the modern virtual working environment – they help virtual teams achieve greater productivity and attain their goals.

Collaboration and online collaboration tools have been found to increase team efficiencies and make it easier to achieve team goals. A study by McKinsey Global Institute confirms that online collaboration tools increased the productivity of workers by as much as 20%-25%. Collaboration tools are so critical in modern day businesses that up to 40% of modern employees wouldn’t mind paying out-of-pocket for their own online collaboration tools to enhance job performance.

Here’s how to choose the best online collaboration tool

1. Supporting robust communication

Communication is key for virtual teams to achieve their maximum potential. An online collaboration tool that will make it easier for team members to share information, connect, and thus enhance working together both at an individual level and a team level is the ideal tool for you and your company. So when choosing a tool you should consider tools that have:

  • Integrated messaging features
  • Private communication features
  • The ability to conduct conference calls both online and over the phone
  • The capability to host video chats
  • Features to store project calls and communications in a central place

2. Ease of use

Most people are busy and impatient with tools that appear strange and complicated. Ease of use greatly influences the rate of adoption by users. The easier a tool is the better.

Therefore, consider the following features when choosing online collaboration tools:

  • Ability to work on and integrate multiple platforms
  • It should have a good mobile support
  • Good workflow management features that is compatible with your own processes
  • A simple and intuitive user-interface

3. Real-time collaboration

Thanks to the latest technology standards, people have become much more impatient with tools. This also applies to the work processes. The longer the collaboration processes are, the more frustrated team members tend to grow. So when picking out a tool, consider the one that enhances real-time working without a team member having to logout and wait for others to process their files. In particular you should look for tools with:

  • Unlimited collaborators capabilities
  • Capabilities to handle changes made by different people in the system
  • Version control; the ability to overwrite changes (and go back to them if required)

4. Consider your unique needs and challenges as a company...

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