July 2, 2022

Virtual Business: Why Teamwork is Important for Success

In most brick-and-mortar workplaces, there’s a focus on the importance of teamwork for business's success.

For virtual businesses, teamwork is no less important; however, it can present more challenges due to the remote nature of the team. It’s easy to feel detached from a team when working remotely, so it’s important for leadership to put a strong emphasis on the team environment.

This article will explore the importance of teamwork for virtual businesses and offer tips on how to make your employees work better together.

RELATED: 3 Steps In Overcoming The Challenges Of Managing Virtual Teams

Why Teamwork Is Very Important in a Virtual Business

The modern business landscape is increasingly global and virtual. With more and more businesses operating across borders and time zones, the need for effective teamwork has never been greater.

While working remotely can have its challenges, there are also many benefits to be gained from virtual teamwork:

Fresh Ideas

A diverse team can exchange fresh ideas and offer viable solutions to problems. You can gain insight from a unique perspective and differing backgrounds, which can prevent future errors.

Improved Efficiency

Virtual teams can be highly productive, achieving better outcomes despite being spread out across the globe. With the right tools in place, such as having access to the latest technology and tools, teamwork can make communication and collaboration simpler, as well as improve efficiency.

Job Satisfaction

Teamwork has been shown to increase job satisfaction while reducing employee turnover.

For example, when one employee feels supported by their colleagues and is working toward the same goal, they are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs. They're more likely to be loyal to the organization and less likely to look for new jobs. And when everyone is pulling in the same direction, it can make even the most challenging tasks feel achievable.

Prevents Managerial Interference

If members are able to work together effectively, they can share information and make decisions without having to rely on a manager who may not be available at all times.

Faster Innovation

Teamwork makes teams innovate faster and be more productive.

When team members are working closely together, they are able to share new ideas and knowledge more easily. This allows them to build on each other's ideas and come up with new solutions more quickly.

9 Ways to Encourage Virtual Teamwork

Working in a virtual team can be a great way to get things done, but it’s not without its challenges. Here are some tips for making sure your virtual teamwork is as effective as possible:

Keep Communication Channels Open

With a remote team, there’s always the risk of miscommunication. It’s important to have multiple channels of communication open so that everyone can stay on the same page. This might include email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and more.

When employees feel like they can freely communicate with one another, they are more likely to collaborate and cooperate. Furthermore, open communication can help to prevent misunderstandings and conflict.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you should allow everyone to speak at once; rather, you should create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their innovative ideas and opinions.

If you can create a great team that feels like they can openly communicate with one another, you'll be well on your way to encouraging teamwork.

Schedule Regular Check-Ins

It can be easy to let days or even weeks go by without talking to other members of your team. To prevent this from happening, schedule regular check-ins (perhaps weekly or bi-weekly) so that everyone has a chance to catch up and touch base.

During these check-ins, team members can share updates on projects, discuss any new challenges they're facing, and offer suggestions for how to improve collaboration.

A regular check-in enables team members to stay connected and work together more effectively. They also show that you value teamwork and are committed to fostering a collaborative environment.

Bridge the Virtual Distance

Your employees aren’t physically together, but it is still possible to close that virtual distance.

If you think about an office environment where everyone is located together, what helps for building that team environment

teamwork is very important

Sure, you have more opportunities for things like team building exercises, but one of the major drivers is the casual conversations you have. People stop by the water cooler or in the break room and have non-work related conversations. They talk about their interests, their weekends, or what happened downtown yesterday. Research from MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory shows that those casual conversations really do matter as a promoter of teamwork.

However, in a virtual environment, your employees can’t bump into one another in the corridors, so you need another way to bridge the gap. The answer for virtual businesses lies in having great tools in place while encouraging a space for non-work related chatter.

For example, you might have a Slack channel that is designated as the “water cooler” channel. You can encourage people to post non-work related pictures, questions, or anecdotes about what they’ve been up to.

teamwork is very important

It’s important for management to lead by example with these sorts of channels, so that it becomes an accepted part of the company culture. Remote-based employees may be hesitant to jump in and say much about themselves if no one else appears to be doing it.

Consistency is important, too! For instance, you could start a Friday tradition of asking a non-work related question for other team members to answer.

RELATED: Managing Virtual Teams By Setting Expectations Right

To bridge the virtual distance when working with a remote team, make sure you have great communication tools in place.

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Introduce People Properly

One thing that really helps with teamwork in a virtual workplace is to make sure everyone is introduced properly.

As companies grow, it’s easy to let this become one of the things that falls by the wayside--one team member starts and gets assigned to their work, but doesn't know the rest of the team.

For starters, that doesn’t create a very nice feeling for the new employee who wasn’t introduced. Team members might not even take the initiative to introduce themselves--now you already have a breakdown in the way of teamwork!

Making a practice of introducing each new team member in your designated communication channel is a great start. Everyone deserves that--imagine being the only new person in a room and not being introduced to anyone!

teamwork is very important

Clearly outline their roles and responsibilities. Everyone needs a clear understanding of what their contribution is to projects, as well as what their colleagues do. This helps people understand how they can work together and what to expect from one another.

teamwork is very important

Conduct Virtual Team-Building Exercises

You may be virtual, but you can still partake in team-building exercises! 

Of course, there won’t be any falling exercises or “circle of trust,” but there are a lot of things you can do as a remote team.

Scientists have told us that team-building exercises are proven to have a positive effect on overall performance and workplace synergy. As much as many employees might roll their eyes at the idea (mostly because of the stereotype of the falling exercise!), a well-run exercise works.

teamwork is very important

What can you do for team-building virtually? Here are some ideas:

Volunteering

This has proven to be effective for team-building. There are many ways to structure volunteer service for a virtual environment, such as collect for a shared cause, join a challenge (such as shaving heads to raise funds for cancer, Movember, Dry July…), take a day out to volunteer for the same cause (for example, on collection days for certain charities), or perhaps even volunteer whatever your business does for a charitable cause (if appropriate).

Shared meals

You don’t need a big event to plan for team-building. You could set up a monthly informal video chat. This works best if you keep the group to no larger than 10 people. If your group is bigger than that, split the groups and rearrange the members every month.

A monthly chat

You don’t need a big event to plan for team-building. You could set up a monthly informal video chat. This works best if you keep the group to no larger than 10 people. If your group is bigger than that, split the groups and rearrange the members every month.

Team-building exercises are proven to have a positive effect on overall performance and teamwork.

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Encourage Healthy Competition

A little healthy competition can go a long way in terms of teamwork. It doesn’t have to be a formal thing, but managers should keep an eye out for opportunities where team members can work together to complete a goal or split difficult tasks.

You could have teams working on the same project competing to see who can complete it first, or come up with the best solution. This is a great way to motivate team members to work together and come up with creative solutions.

Of course, you don’t want to pit team members against each other all the time as that could lead to hostility, but a little bit of healthy competition now and then can be beneficial.

Celebrate Successes Together

It’s important to celebrate successes as a team so that everyone feels like they are part of the win.

For example, if a team completes a project on time and under budget, the whole team can be recognized and rewarded. This helps to create a strong sense of pride and ownership among team members, and it also helps to create higher morale.

Additionally, celebrating successes together helps to foster a greater sense of camaraderie and cooperation among team members. As a result, it is an effective way to encourage teamwork and attain higher productivity.

teamwork is very important

Hire for “Soft Skills”

When you’re hiring new team members, it’s common to look for the specific “hard skills” that the role requires. You look for things like whether the person can competently write a report or use software and tools that your business uses.

However, an important aspect to include when you want to encourage teamwork online is to look at their “soft skills.” These include the personal attributes that enable the candidate to interact effectively with other people.

Trust, communication, and mutual respect are just a few of the soft skills that are essential for teamwork. These skills are what enable employees to form strong working relationships and work together effectively.

Beyond hiring, effective teams choose to train for soft skills as well. They assess the development needs of the employees, and conduct skill-building exercises to help sharpen those soft skills.

A top skill that is often repeated in training is communicating clearly and respectfully. This is because in the virtual environment, it’s easy for written messages to be misinterpreted, or to carry a harsher tone than perhaps the writer intended. All sorts of potential drama can be avoided if people know how to communicate with an appropriate tone.

However, even with the right mix of skills, teamwork doesn't always go according to plan. The right circumstances also need to be in place, such as a common goal and a shared sense of purpose. But when everything comes together, there's nothing quite like the power of a well-functioning team.

Create a Safe Space for Your Employees

A safe space is an environment where employees feel like they can openly express their ideas and concerns without fear of retribution. This is important for effective teamwork because it allows employees to have honest dialogue with each other, which is essential for solving problems and coming up with creative solutions.

A safe space can be created virtually by having open communication channels where employees feel like their voices will be heard. Additionally, managers should create an environment where dissenting opinions are valued and encouraged.

This doesn’t mean that there should be no structure or rules in place. Rather, the focus should be on creating an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.

Final Thoughts

Team collaboration is as essential for online-based businesses as it is for those with a physical location. Teamwork keeps the wheels turning in your business so that projects are completed and clients are satisfied.

Besides that, you don’t want to be stuck always having to be at work to make sure things get done, right? Every founder needs their vacations, too. By fostering a team environment, you can feel more comfortable and confident that things will get done without you there.

Become deliberate about creating a collaborative environment, since your team lacks the natural opportunities to run into one another in-person. It is worth your time and energy though, especially when you get to see your business running while you’re not there!


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