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Global Virtual Team Challenges

We have been delivering global virtual team training programmes for major global organisations for more than fifteen years and are therefore very aware of the various global virtual team challenges that are faced by people on a daily basis.  We have run these training programmes for people in multiple geographies in both a ‘live’ classroom setting and in a virtual classroom through the use of webinar technology across a wide range of sectors – but whatever the geography and whatever the sector, the challenges remain constant.

Companies have had a choice up to 2020 – they could either ignore the issues which tend to make virtual teams less productive than co-located teams or they could address those issues through well-structured practical training programmes.  They had that choice up to 2020 but the Covid 19 pandemic has dramatically transformed the working landscape and it looks highly likely that in the future far more people will be working in virtual teams than are sitting together in a traditional office location.  Even if people don’t work remotely all the time, they will inevitably be working part of the week from home.

Global virtual team training therefore becomes a ‘need to have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’ and I thought it might be helpful to share my experiences around what the major global virtual team challenges actually are.  I think these experiences might prove valuable because they are not really my experiences at all – they are the experiences which hundreds and hundreds of training programme delegates have reported back to me on the training programmes I run for clients.  These challenges are not in any way theoretical; they are deeply rooted in real-life experiences.

Global Virtual Teams – a definition

Global Virtual Team TrainingI have a definition which I very often share on global virtual teams training programmes which delegates seem to find useful and which always seems to stimulate a debate.  That definition is:

This definition describes the theoretical aim of any virtual team, but unfortunately most global virtual teams fail when benchmarked against most of the objectives listed above.  It is undoubtedly true that a global virtual team ‘is a group of individuals who work across the boundaries of time, geography, language and culture’ – this part of the definition cannot be contested but I start to have serious problems with the phrase ‘who link successfully by technology and common goals.’  If these teams were in fact linked successfully by technology and common goals why do people in every training programme I run complain about the ineffectiveness of the technology they use and simply laugh at the idea that everybody in a virtual team share common goals?  And this is before we start to look at issues around skill sets and mutual accountability!

Global Virtual Team Challenges

So, what are the most common challenges that people raise when we look at these issues during the global virtual teams training programmes we run for our clients?  Here are five of the most often raised issues:

Global Team Solutions

We specialise in helping global virtual teams and global virtual team leaders understand these challenges and develop solutions to ensure people can work effectively in these most challenging of situations.  Our courses include:

All programmes are tailored to meet client needs and delivered by trainers with decades of experience of cross-border working.

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