Virtual teams are becoming the norm as companies and employees alike are reaping the benefits of non-traditional workplaces. More and more forward-thinking business leaders are going office-less, hiring remotely and learning the ins and outs of managing a distributed team through events like the largest remote work conference Running Remote.
Working remotely has become more of a norm than an exception as the workplace becomes increasingly global. If you aren’t already working alongside a global team, chances are you will be soon.
Here are 4 ways you can prepare yourself to thrive as part of a virtual team:
Business talk over a meal? Work emails with emojis and a photo of the dog attached? Cultural differences between team members can often lead to confusion. What you consider to be standard business etiquette may not be the case for your colleague in Brazil or Australia. Be open-minded and do your research so you have an idea of what to expect, as well as what may be expected of you. The key is to recognize and respect differences, not necessarily conform to them.
Lack of face-to-face communication, coupled with differences in accents, idioms, syntax, and jargon all lead to misinterpreted information. Make an effort to go beyond email and facilitate communication in various forms, such as video chats and phone calls. Remember that not everyone is a native English (or whatever language) speaker. Take time to answer questions, and avoid using local phrases or sayings.
You may additionally want to consider check-ins that don’t revolve around a problem or task. Instant messaging, for example, is a great way to recreate the informal conversation that occurs naturally in office environments.
Language barriers and differing perspectives aside, technology plays an integral role in making or breaking effective collaboration among a distributed team. Whether it be from user-error or a faulty wifi connection, tech blips are bound to happen. Troubleshooting the problem at hand and moving along will help both you and your colleagues avoid unnecessary stress.
Timezones, holidays and differing working hours all add a layer of complexity to organizing team meetings. It’s inevitable that someone will need to compromise by meeting outside of normal business hours. This can add additional stress, inhibit productivity, and lead to group tension. Appreciate the sacrifices others make, and be sure to return the favor next time.
If you have an international team, chances are the language used in meetings will be English. If you don't want team members from non-English speaking countries, consider providing them with tools and training to improve their language skills. Vidalingua publishes language learning apps that effective and entertaining for virtual teams. You can download them for free on
There is no denying that working among a multicultural or globally distributed team has its challenges. Following these tips can help you overcome common problems and work effectively with colleagues across the world. You’ll quickly come to see how this new way of working brings immense opportunity to gain a fresh perspective and cultivate new, innovative ideas.
Managing a global team? Make the most of your team by attending Running Remote, which covers every facet of building, managing and scaling a remote team. With the special promo code "vidalingua", you get 20% off the ticket price.
Good luck with your team building!
Megan is passionate about creating content that empowers organizations to build an exceptional remote work culture and thrive in a virtual business environment.