Leading Virtual Teams

By Drs. Lesley Page, Sheila Boysen and Michael Cherry

COVID-19, 2020 presidential election, stock market turmoil, suspension/delay of the NCAA, NBA, NHL and MBA seasons, closure of Disney World theme parks, and the list goes on.

There is no doubt we live in a chaotic and volatile world. The acronym VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) reminds us that life is complex and ever-changing. Our workplaces reflect such changes which include the necessity for virtual teams.

Virtual teams have become increasingly prevalent as our organizations have become more global, our workplace demographics have become more diverse and service/productivity standards reach an all-time high.  Afterall, more heads are better than one, right?

Working on a virtual team, however, provides us the opportunity to reflect on the challenges of teamwork and also the opportunities that exist when working remotely.

One of these challenges is how to get the team together. With travel bans or simply traffic jams the in person meeting is a challenge. Fortunately, there are a myriad of options that can be low or no cost. If you want to see each other, video conferencing options can be found through Zoom, Skype, Webex, etc. If you like to be heard and not seen, conference lines are still available like Free Conference call. Our mobile phones offer options as well. However, with any of these tools, they are only as good as our ability to use them so…

A few tips to consider whether you’re new to the virtual teamwork environment or even if you are an experienced remote meeting attendee include:

1. Leave the keyboard alone

Even if you are taking notes the sound of your typing can be distracting to other meeting attendees.

2. Dress appropriately

If you are going to be on camera for a virtual meeting, make sure to look presentable.

3. Be aware of your surroundings

Be aware of what is in the background of your work area when you are on camera in a virtual meeting.  You don’t want your colleagues looking at a pile of dirty laundry.

4. Mute your microphone when you’re not talking

It is a best practice, especially in a larger meeting, to put yourself on mute unless you are actually speaking.

5. Speak up

When you join a virtual meeting make sure to announce yourself when you join. If it a larger meeting, you can do this in a text chat function if it is available. 

6. No food allowed

Consider eating a snack before your meeting.  Eating while on camera in a virtual meeting can be distracting.

7. Stay present

It may be tempting to check your email, but don’t do it! 



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