Teams - Remote and Virtual

by Claire Snowdon and Mark Bouch

Pros and cons of working with VRW teams

Virtual/remote teams offer many advantages, both to organisations and to individuals.

The enterprise benefits because this style of teamwork offers

  • Reduced travelling expenses, which improves the carbon impact by eliminating unproductive travel
  • Increased productivity through fewer interruptions
  • The reduced demand on office infrastructure may allow a smaller office footprint and reduced requirement for services (such as energy consumption, catering and parking)
  • Access to talent without geographical restrictions
  • The ability to source unique skills and talent
  • Knowledge transfer
  • An ability to develop better solutions from greater team diversity
  • Global customer needs and markets can be taken into account
  • Extended market opportunity
  • Different nationalities combine to bring a more global approach to problems.

For the individual, working in a virtual/remote team can offer

  • Reduced commuting expenses
  • Valuable time gained by the reduction of a commute
  • More flexibility to work from home or on clients’ sites, avoiding the need to congregate at a single workplace
  • Better lifestyle management, accommodating working parents, part-time staff, or staff with specific mobility needs
  • Improved health from stress reduction, due to not having to commute and to the possibility to eat more healthy, home-cooked food.

Disadvantages of VRW teams

For the enterprise:

  • It is difficult to maintain a sense of teamwork with a common purpose and goal
  • People from a mix of cultures bring differing approaches and ways of doing things, and this can make the decision-making process more complicated
  • Differing cultural styles can create challenges
  • Communication deficiencies can give rise to more frequent misunderstandings and miscommunications
  • The loss of context can create feelings of isolation and undermine trust
  • Complexity and cost related to tracking communication.

For the individual:

  • Feelings of isolation and a reduced feeling of being a part of the team
  • It can be difficult to create a work/life balance
  • Lack of stimulation and human interaction.