6 Virtual Team Challenges | What They Are and How to Overcome Them

virtual team challenges

Around the globe, more and more teams and organizations have shifted or adapted to a hybrid if not fully virtual workforce over the past year. There are many benefits to remote work such as the added flexibility, but with that flexibility comes different virtual team challenges, both in our personal lives (separating work from home as an example) and in our work teams. 

Building and maintaining strong virtual teams present different and sometimes additional challenges than teams that are together in person. 

Building high performance virtual teams requires virtual team building as a critical part to facilitating connection, engagement, collaboration, and relationship building. AND….we have a good idea of what your pushback or concern might be.

Another virtual meeting?!

We get that. Virtual meetings that don’t take into consideration connection and full engagement of all participants can add to the fatigue and exhaustion levels that we’ve reached over the past year. 

RELATED: 6 Tips for Hosting Engaging Virtual Meetings

We hear you and we agree. Virtual meetings that offer little opportunity for engagement and relationship building can be exhausting. Especially if we have a lot of them.

And the poll results say…

Virtual Team Challenges Poll

We took a poll to ask people if they have experienced any of the following over the past year

  • Increased disconnection from co-workers
  • Decreased ability to focus
  • Decreased engagement (in work tasks, teamwork)
  • Fewer opportunities for professional development
  • Decreased or limited communication with team-mates
  • Fewer opportunities to collaborate.

The results we gathered are what we have been experiencing ourselves and have been hearing from the teams we work with. The results concur with what we believe to be true about virtual teams. 

virtual team challenges poll
Poll conducted by Summit Team Building

The move from largely in person teams to virtual teams has added increased levels of disconnection, decreased focus and engagement, provides fewer opportunities for professional development and limits our communication and collaboration opportunities, and yet virtual teams are online together all the time! 

What does this mean for the way we are gathering or running our virtual meetings, events and teams? 

Too often teams focus on achieving great results without also equally focusing on the culture they create together. Teams might achieve great results for a short while, but perhaps at the expense of their people’s sense of team and connectedness. 

Over time, this takes a toll on people. Sustainably maintaining high performance as a team (in person and virtually) over the long-haul hinges on both great results and strong team relationships. 

Relationships require connection, trust, engagement and collaboration, and this has been increasingly challenging for teams who are now virtual.

RELATED: Social Interaction and Well-Being. Creating Balance for Virtual Teams

Converting Virtual Team Challenges to Virtual Team Success

With relationships being so foundationally important to achieving and sustaining high performance in any team, knowing how to build strong virtual team relationships is different than being able to do that in person. 

Virtual team challenges and opportunities are unique and require even more deliberate and intentional team building opportunities to connect and engage. 

Virtual team building can be a vehicle to build the relationship and culture as part of building high performance virtual teams but with a few important distinctions. 

RELATED: Workplace Culture 2021. Pushing the Reset Button

Where To Start. Ask this Question and Use This Checklist

What are the differences between all the virtual team building options out there?

This is an important question as there are endless options out there. They’re offered professionally by companies like ours and you may be thinking about doing it yourself in-house.  

When considering options, how will you know if you are comparing apples to apples or seeing the level of quality or professional expertise that different options present? It can be challenging to differentiate between options! 

The following is a checklist you can use when considering potential team building opportunities.

1. Get clear about what it is you’re looking to achieve. 

Start with the end in mind. What is it that you’re hoping people will be saying and feeling about the team building when it’s all said and done? What will they have gained? 

  • Do you want virtual team building to be just a fun break? Or do you have other objectives you are also trying to achieve? 
  • Do you want to be motivated in team decision making or consensus building? 
  • Do you want to inspire the team to maintain a learning mindset? 
  • Is play/fun/alleviating feelings of isolation the most important objective? 
  • Is building/maintaining connection or team relationships the most important? 

2. Get The Necessary Support

With greater clarity on what you want to achieve, then you can consider WHO it is that can support your objectives. 

  • Who among the options you are considering has the most expertise in building programs around your goals? 
  • Are you looking to build high performance teams or strengthen your culture? 

Then you should be looking at virtual team building options from people who have expertise in building high performance teams. Of course, you want any virtual team experience to be fun, but you also want the planning and framework behind the options you are considering having the deeper understanding on how it is that we achieve the objectives you want to meet.

3. Do Your Due Diligence Before Deciding

What is the track record and depth of knowledge of building culture and teams? If you wanted to dig deeper into growing your team effectiveness, could you build a more in depth or multi-program longer term plan with the options you’re considering? 

Even though the next meetings objectives might be more light-hearted, could the companies you are considering offer more or longer-term plans of ways to continue to build your team culture? 

Dig into their background and expertise in the field. Not every option out there is the same, and those with experience in building high performance virtual teams will take  virtual team challenges and engagement principles into consideration even in their light-hearted and fun team building options. This is a great way to distinguish who are the leaders out there in virtual team building options.  

We know how important and challenging building your virtual team is. There are many obstacles to relationships that a virtual environment creates, but we also know that it is possible to maximize the benefits of remote work while minimizing the effects that all teams face when building your virtual team is done in collaboration with a team building organization that understands the elements of high performance teams.  

We’re Here to Help!

As always, we’re here to help! Sometimes you know the content you need to share in your meeting, and you want to let the engagement experts take care of the rest. We have some great virtual team building options now, with more on the way. 

If learning, leadership development and soft skills building is on the agenda, we can work with you to create a custom virtual training workshop. And if you want a motivational or inspirational keynote, we have a couple of great options. We hope that you find this post useful in planning your virtual meetings and invite you to connect with us. We’re happy to have a conversation and send a free proposal. Happy planning!