The advantages and disadvantages of virtual teams

Are you looking to trade a traditional office environment to work remotely? Whether you’re a small business just starting out or a large corporation, the benefits of remote work outweigh the disadvantages of virtual teams. Business owners and staff alike can work from a home office or take their projects on the move in minutes. 

What are the advantages of a virtual team?

  • Cost savings on office space, utility bills and travel is the main benefit of a virtual team. Start-ups and small businesses can benefit from these cost reductions if they cannot afford a large enough office. Any firm large or small can also upscale their workforce, without costly expansion plans. This, in turn, creates a smaller environmental footprint. 
  • Flexible working practices also provide a positive work-life balance, allowing staff to juggle work with home responsibilities. Working from home and digital integration have proven key to adapting to the COVID-19 crisis. At the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, 49% of employees reported working from home at some point. As a result, virtual working practices will now be more commonplace as companies realise the efficiency of a dispersed workforce. Research shows that companies across the economy are considering a permanent shift to remote work in the post-COVID-19 era. 
  • Attracting widespread talent is also more feasible. Remote work allows firms to scout for talent from other areas or countries more easily. If you have a virtual team working in different time zones, this can often provide quicker routes to market, as people can work on tasks around the clock. Virtual working can also be a draw for people who are less mobile or reluctant to relocate for various reasons.
  • Increased productivity is caused by flexible working practices because employees tend to have a higher focus on the task at hand. Virtual teams can also make it easier to communicate with customers and suppliers in different time zones. 
  • Many members of virtual teams are also said to have higher levels of loyalty, due to being able to work flexibly. Remote workers are also less likely to have sick days or to leave a company.

So, efficiency is high. What are the drawbacks of remote work?

  • Social isolation when working remotely can reduce social interaction across team members associated with a physical office setting. This can affect productivity, as well as contributing to higher stress levels. 
  • At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, most companies had limited flexible work solutions to implement in the long-term. As a result, employee well-being was challenged by the sheer novelty of virtual teams. Managers working virtually need to be alert in order to create the right conditions for employee engagement.
  • Cost of software can be high. A variety of communication technology types are needed to effectively work virtually. These can include video conferencing software, project management tools and sticky note options. Often, no one tool can provide everything needed, so costs can increase. 
  • According to Deloitte, 70% of professionals expect the use of online collaboration platforms to increase in the future. So, it is important to find the right virtual technology that works for your business, in terms of both function and cost.
  • A new set of leadership skills may be necessary to understand how you work together virtually. Team leaders may need to set boundaries and assist staff in maintaining a suitable work-life balance.
  • Conflicts across teams, due to a lack of collaboration, can take a toll on team trust and employee engagement. Non-verbal cues lost from traditional face-to-face working can cause added difficulties for collaborating, increasing feelings of isolation.

In an increasingly digital world, many are working from home or remotely most of the time. For companies already offering remote options, the switch to virtual teams has been easier than others. 

Disadvantages that need to be addressed are often based around social isolation, as well as the cost and type of the software that best suits the company’s needs. However, there are also many advantages such as cost savings, environmental impact and increased productivity. 

Companies adopting virtual teams and working practices will find that they are future-proofing their operations against similar global crises. Virtual team working can help lessen the business impact of many potential threats, such as COVID-19, that may emerge in the future. 

Working in virtual teams poses new challenges for leaders and employees alike. This flexible and very on-trend way of working also attracts global talent and can help streamline working practices, making them much more efficient.

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Rovva puts everything you need for your business in one place. From an accountancy helpline to a drop-in business lounge - we've got everything covered.

Your complete business toolkit

Rovva puts everything you need for your business in one place. From an accountancy helpline to a drop-in business lounge - we've got everything covered.