Most Popular Challenges of Virtual Teams

A virtual team is a convenient work format because employees have the opportunity to work together on one project while being geographically dispersed. This means that each member can have simultaneous access to a shared workspace in real time.

At the same time, the geographic dispersion of a remote team can be the cause of poor performance. This situation can be caused by issues such as a lack of work structure, improperly chosen communication tools, and a lack of trust among employees.

Regular Challenges of Virtual Teams

An incorrectly built virtual teamwork structure, poor quality of communication, and other issues lead to high-stress levels among employees, low productivity, disputes, and conflicts between team members.

Below, you can see several major problems most commonly faced by virtual crews:

  • Poor communication. This can be considered one of the main issues in a virtual team. The same goes for wrong communication tools;
  • Lack of work structure. If all members, including remote employees, do not have detailed work schedules, convenient communication channels, and general team meeting times, the level of engagement is decreased, which eventually leads to distrust towards the company’s management;
  • Wrong digital tools. A standard set of communication software, file-sharing platforms, and office apps may be insufficient to meet the needs of a virtual group;
  • Mistrust of employees. If there is no transparent communication and general rules of work, remote employees may feel a lack of trust in the management. This negatively affects the level of motivation, the productivity of individual team members;
  • Improper delegation of authority. If the head of a virtual group excessively controls employees or vice versa, the employees have no information about deadlines and tasks, this may undermine the unity of the team;
  • Distracting environment. If remote employees do not have the right skills to work productively outside the office (e.g., lack of self-discipline), this can reduce the effectiveness of their work;
  • Poor office culture. The lack of a “virtual office” where employees can chat informally about various topics can negatively impact overall team productivity;
  • Improper scheduling of online business meetings. If employees work in different time zones, improper scheduling results in some individuals not attending meetings. In addition, remote employees perceive this as inattention.

Addressing these issues in a timely manner is the only effective way to create a solid structure within your remote squad. Otherwise, unity issues may arise.

How to Make Your Virtual Team Productive

The challenges that virtual squads face are an effective way to make your company stronger and more efficient. By encouraging your employees to timely provide their feedback, you will be able to quickly identify and resolve various problems within the group.

Utilize Innovative Technology

The level of productivity in a virtual team directly depends on communication, team management, and video conferencing tools, as well as special apps or platforms for business meetings and presentations. That said, the following software solutions can come in handy for members of virtual groups:

  • Instant messaging apps. These can be Google Hangouts or Slack;
  • Video conferencing software. This can be Skype, Zoom, Discord, GoToMeeting, Teamviewer, and Adobe Connect (for large groups);
  • Software for collaboration and file sharing. You can try G Suite, Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, WeTransfer, and OneDrive;
  • Project management tools. These can be Todoist, ClickUp, or Wrike.

There is no one-size-fits-all set of digital tools that any remote team can use to successfully work on tasks. For example, if employees lack a sense of cohesion, using only collaboration platforms, email correspondence, and video conferencing software is not sustainable.

It’s worth adding Skype or another video conferencing tool. Remote employees will be able to see each other, making the meeting more effective.

Build a Work Structure

If some of your remote employees have trouble being productive outside the office, as a team leader, you should help them with this. Thus, it’s important to set work hours during which the employees should be in the home office, as well as times for daily, weekly, and monthly online meetings.

This way, you will create a helpful sense of routine and orderly work for all employees within the remote squad. Additionally, the following tools can help make the work more productive and improve the level of self-discipline in the group:

  • White noise generators;
  • Noise suppression software;
  • Timers and ad-blocking extensions, etc.

Common Culture for Maximum Engagement

If your virtual squad exclusively consists of remote employees who don’t communicate with each other, creating a sense of unity among them can be challenging. Perhaps, for the successful elimination of the problem, you should organize virtual hangouts for your employees, which will be unrelated to work.

The occasion for such a meeting can be a celebration of the company’s anniversary or achievements, someone’s birthday, or any other meaningful occasion.

Maximum Availability of the Team Manager

For effective teamwork, in addition to well-organized communication among the members, there has to be quality feedback from the manager. You can offer the following alternatives to an “open day” to your remote group members:

  • Shared calendar access for the entire team;
  • Quick responses to emails;
  • Skype or other video conferencing software between meetings;
  • Instant messaging applications or messengers.

If your employees are able to get quick responses to their work-related questions, they will trust their leader. This only happens if even remote or freelance employees can get help and support in difficult situations.

Create a Common Communication Language

In addition to suitable digital tools, a virtual team leader should generate communication rules to avoid misinterpretations of certain words or phrases.

For this, it’s important to create a list of certain words or phrases that may be unclear or misinterpreted and agree on them in advance. After that, it’s best to post the list on your chosen platform or board and ensure that it’s open to public inspection.

Virtual Water Cooler Method

An effective method for strengthening social ties within the team is to communicate near a “virtual water cooler.” Alternatives to informal communication between employees in the office can be:

  • A separate chat room where your employees could freely chat about anything they want;
  • Virtual coffee breaks as a substitute for communicating in the office kitchen.

This promotes team unity, trust building, and respect among employees.


As a virtual team manager, you want to build an efficient work structure before starting any project. This is an effective way to prevent possible risks that can reduce overall productivity, and only then can effective interaction between everyone in the team be ensured. The same goes for transparent communication between coworkers.

The most common challenges for remote groups are a lack of work structure and poor communication, no work culture, and improper scheduling of business meetings. Also, remote employees may face issues related to ensuring efficient collaboration.