Virtual teams: Benefits and disadvantages

Organizations that deliver the services of a virtual team hire the most suitably qualified people available, with varying levels and areas of experience. This framework can be complemented by hiring virtual employees in multiple geographic locations to support customers from different regions.

In the area of human resources, there are many disciplines that require specific skills, training and experience, including:

Often, the challenge for startups and other small companies is having the resources to hire an employee with as much of this expertise as possible at the lowest possible investment. Finding all of this in one individual at the experience level required can be daunting. The virtual team can provide the answer in fields such as human resources, finance and marketing.

Virtual teams: Benefits

Virtual teams are growing in popularity for several reasons, including the following benefits:

  • Access to a wider range of candidates given there is no commuting expectation
  • Organization can scale up more easily given the elimination of employee location boundaries
  • Lower overhead expenses for the organization
  • Less expenses for the employees with the absence of having to commute and other office relates expenses
  • Better work/life balance for employees
  • Employees more flexible with working hours given there is no commute
  • Ability to work from anywhere provides less roadblocks when employees are not bound to an office

Virtual teams: Disadvantages

Understanding the disadvantages that are inherent in virtual teams can enable the combined team (i.e., your staff and the virtual team) to become more successful and efficient, particularly by avoiding the many mistakes that can lead to failure. These challenges can lie in the areas of:

  • Communication: Not working in the same physical location can present communication challenges—leverage technology to reduce this problem (e.g., video conferencing, project management software, phone discussions, detailed email updates)
  • Poor leadership: It is essential that the leader of a virtual team have the ability to manage many initiatives and virtual employees while providing a clear vision for the team
  • Social Isolation: Team members may miss being in an office environment and being around their colleagues
  • Incompetent team members: One weak team member can adversely affect the virtual team concept. Recruiting the right team members plays a critical role in the success of the virtual team

Implement virtual teams effectively and net the benefits

If implemented effectively, a virtual team nets many benefits for your startup and can be the ideal solution for many of the business needs of a small organization. While a new field, organizations that deliver these types of business services are finding themselves in an innovative and growing niche.

Summary: Using virtual teams has inherent benefits and disadvantages; successfully navigating these can enable startups to provide top products and services while remaining flexible and responsive to customer needs.