Challenges in virtual set-up and how to overcome them
Undeniably, the work setup for most of us has turned 180 degrees: from going to physical offices to virtual ones, doing remote work online. It was a challenge for some companies to keep their teams together. Also, managers have had to learn to foster and nurture the bonds between co-workers who rarely meet, to create and maintain strong teams.
Many companies, like ours, have since adapted to provide excellent team bonding opportunities virtually. But, naturally, we encountered some obstacles along the way. So let me share with you my experience with overcoming these common hurdles:
Time zone differences
Most problems can be easily avoided by sharing ideas over video calls or even just sending emails. However, working remotely with teams based in different time zones was challenging because it felt like we were always lagging behind the others no matter what we did. So, it's best to ensure everyone knows which day/time frame is best suited to reach out so that messages and ideas don't get missed or delayed. For example, if one of your colleagues lives in Asia, you may want to prioritize sending that email to them during your morning, before they go home for dinner. Using a “world clock” app helps to avoid confusion (and embarrassing middle-of-the-night business calls), and ensure everything gets done right away without causing delays. If your international teams do this well, it can even increase your efficiency: if your colleagues can be solving problems after you go to bed, you can pick the project up again in the morning with tons of “to do’s” already ticked off the list!
Different cultural backgrounds
We used to think that having a team of people from all around the world, with such a diversity of thoughts and opinions, would generally lead to more difficulty in making decisions. Nowadays, however, we have learned that having diverse backgrounds is beneficial, especially when solving problems and coming up with creative solutions.
It’ true that people with similar backgrounds and experiences will often agree on a solution or course of action more quickly, but this can also mean that they haven’t been able to identify potential issues, extenuating circumstances, or innovative possibilities. A team with diversity has the ability to approach problems from multiple perspectives. It can generate fresh solutions to even the most complex problem because the eyes examining it have a wider range of experience.
Dragging internet lag
Isn't it frustrating when you're waiting to be let into a virtual room but your internet connection doesn't feel like cooperating? As you wait for it to load, the person talking suddenly just freezes. Whenever it happens, you tend to start feeling impatient and annoyed, right?
With that said, if you face compatibility issues with the video conferencing software then you should replace it immediately. There are plenty of options to choose from. You and your team can look for a better app, a more efficient one that has better functionalities and is easy to use, too.
In conclusion, here are three ways to help you overcome these obstacles mentioned above:
a) Set aside enough time before the meeting starts to prepare yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
We don’t get to have transition time when we operate virtually the way we did when we worked in offices. We used to finish a task, gather the materials we’d need for a meeting, and walk from one room to another, with perhaps time to grab a beverage on the way. Now, with one or two clicks, we jump from one task or meeting to the next, with no time to gather our thoughts in between.
We are not machines, and shifting gears so fast can leave us feeling unprepared and stressed out. We all know that anxiety and stress affect our performance, so it’s important to remember to allow time between tasks and meetings to take breaks, stretch, hydrate, and start to focus on the task ahead. If you find yourself unable to focus during a meeting, find an appropriate moment to ask for a few minutes’ break to collect yourself. Use the “chat” function to ask a colleague to take notes in case you miss something important, and return to the conversation when you can be 100% present.
b) Prepare questions to ask in advance.
This is a good exercise to boost productivity and focus yourself before a meeting (and in case of internet lag, you’ve already got your questions ready to submit in the chatbox). Jumping right in once a meeting begins helps reduce unnecessary chit-chat and allows you to concentrate solely on the discussion topic and its outcomes.
c) Use tools that allow you to connect virtually anywhere.
There are many options available today, including Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc. Some are free, while others cost money, depending on the number of participants. Regardless, choose something that suits your preference and that of your team. Plan accordingly.
So there you go…we hope this blog post gives you helpful advice to face those challenges head-on. Thanks for reading :)