Performance in Virtual Teams

A virtual team, like a traditional team, can experience more than just periods of success. Often, the “plateau” stage is inevitable when the overall level of productivity drops. The bad news is that hybrid or virtual team management requires a lot of time and resources, also due to a large number of remote employees.

But the good news is that there are a large number of effective methods that can be used to improve productivity in the shortest possible time. Most of them refer to basic team management practices.

How the “Plateau Stage” Happens in a Virtual Team

If the team’s and its leader’s previous algorithm of action no longer yields the desired results, this can indicate a “plateau stage”. This means that the collective effort in working toward a goal has reached a certain point, after which the dynamic of development slows down or stops altogether.

The “plateau stage” requires decisive action (even to the point of having to rebuild the team entirely). A new development strategy should involve analysis and, if necessary, a change in goals.

A “Plateau Stage” Indicators

The “plateau stage” for any staff has quite certain indicators:

  • Most of the attention shifts to routine tasks. Any large project inevitably has a huge number of secondary but quite important tasks that reduce the pace of work of the entire team;
  • There is a lack of realistic planning. Since most of the time and energy of employees is devoted to solving routine tasks, the staff simply “drowns” in them. This means that work planning and deadlines become unrealistic. Employees are constantly stressed, and productivity drops;
  • Lack of in-depth strategy. Another sign of the “plateau stage” is chaotic planning and a large number of superficial initiatives. In this case, strategic planning suffers.

If a virtual team has at least one of these signs, you need to reconsider the purpose of its work and choose effective tools to implement.

Tips for Improving Team Productivity

High team performance is a two-way street. Equally important are the leader’s ability to set the right goals and the employees’ self-management skills to meet them.

The first rule of high performance in virtual team management is clear work rules and goals. This gives employees a sense of certainty and increases trust in the company’s leadership. The first concern of the leader of a team that has entered the “plateau stage” is to assess the pace of work and well-being of employees.

Effective Communication

Quality communication is one of the main elements of a virtual team’s high performance. A well-planned virtual group operating structure can involve:

  • Proper delegation of responsibilities to employees;
  • Daily or weekly team meetings;
  • The use of digital tools for real-time collaboration;
  • Assistance to employees in difficult situations and a leader’s willingness to share knowledge or experience;
  • A strategy for working effectively when employees are in different time zones.

As a result, each of the employees will know exactly their role in the organization and have the most accurate vision of the work processes.

Trust Within the Team

The trust of employees in the manager and the confidence of the leader in the members are a guarantee of high productivity of the company. When employees trust the leader, they understand the necessity of radical changes.

In turn, a manager or a business owner who trusts his/her employees can be fully confident that all members will responsibly address the new goals and maintain a high level of self-discipline, self-organization, and motivation.

Motivation Increase

One of the reasons for lower productivity within a team is low employee motivation. Here are ways that can help a business owner and leader solve the problem:

  • A comfortable workspace. A properly equipped workspace and a comfortable office have a significant impact on employee productivity levels;
  • An open workspace. In it, employees can communicate freely and share important ideas. In a virtual or hybrid team, regular online meetings can be a substitute for communicating during lunch breaks or near the office water cooler;
  • A culture of cooperation. An effective tool for its development is team games, which can also be held online using video conferencing platforms.

Without quality communication, a high level of motivation is unattainable. A manager should hold regular face-to-face meetings and encourage employees to give feedback.

Setting Goals

An overall team goal, like a company’s mission statement, is both the most accurate roadmap for the team’s work and a measure of the staff’s effectiveness.

The benefits of a roadmap for virtual or hybrid team performance are:

  • All employees, even if they work remotely, know their tasks and deadlines;
  • Tasks are sorted into important and secondary. Accordingly, employees are not “drowned” in routine;
  • Efficiency indicator. Measurable goals make it possible to analyze how efficiently these goals have been achieved.

In order to create roadmaps and share them with virtual team members, it is convenient to use digital tools, including various project management software systems.

Project Management Systems

There are many digital tools for effective project management for virtual and hybrid teams. Such software is capable of performing several important functions:

  • Tracking the progress of both the project as a whole and individual project tasks;
  • Monitoring the resources that the company needs to successfully meet its goals;
  • Delegation and distribution of tasks between members.

The main advantages of such software are the improvement of communication within the team, the ability to manage the budget, and control of not only the profit but also the necessary expenses.

Work-life Balance

Frequently, a decrease in motivation in a virtual team occurs when employees in the “home office” cannot find a proper balance between work and personal life. This leads either to procrastination (if the employee has problems with self-discipline) or to professional burnout.

In this case, the leader is obliged to help the employees cope with this problem and offer effective tools for this purpose:

  • Time-tracking apps. With their help, the employee will be able to independently track how much time they spend on work;
  • Flexible work schedule. If employees can self-schedule their own workday, they will be able to complete tasks during those hours when they can be most productive.

As a result, employees will learn how to be productive while still having enough time for their personal lives and household chores.

Emphasis on Achievement

The leader should reward each of the employees for excellent task completion, as well as the achievements of the team as a whole. This is a great way to increase motivation and employee engagement with the company.

Celebrate every successful achievement of goals and professional success of employees.


Effective virtual team management has three key components. These are the goals of the team’s work, the tools to implement them, and productive communication within the staff. 

If the virtual team has reached a “plateau stage”, the leader’s task is to analyze the reasons for this problem and find ways to solve it. It may be necessary to completely change the team management strategy and create new goals for the team.