How to Adjust to a Virtual Team

Virtual offices have fundamentally changed the global economy. The ability to gather the best and brightest from across the planet for a project as well as to synchronize different offices efficiently (and for a fraction of what it cost two decades ago) enables a large organization to adapt to market changes with the ability of a small start-up.

That being said, transitioning from a traditional office with everyone eating lunch together and creating cohesive teams through personal interactions to a virtual office is no easy feat.

After conducting multiple studies with hundreds of virtual teams, we’ve found strategies that, when executed correctly, can shorten the adjustment period and significantly increase efficiency across your entire organization. Here are three key components:

Encourage Pro-Active Behavior

Successful virtual team members are dynamic, self-motivated and responsible. They see obstacles as challenges and relish the opportunity to build appropriate solutions. At the same time, they still need a leader to provide them with direction. Define their individual roles but let them decide how to best reach the goal. This will foster creativity and allow the entire team to bond over task-related assignments.


Virtual team members don’t have the benefit of nonverbal cues (such as body language and certain visual aids), so succinct communication is vital. Managing from a distance requires being clear about expectations, routine checks for comprehension and a quick turnaround time to answer questions and clear up misunderstandings. In the beginning of a virtual transition, this likely requires regular phone calls or video sessions with individual team members.


The idea of, ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ is a common initial challenge to overcome. You have to trust that you brought the right team together. Only once that trust is established between you and your team can everyone focus on the task at hand and achieving peak performance. Do this by building expectations around communication patterns and establishing yourself as a go-to resource that everyone can rely on.

Moving your business from face-to-face to virtual teams has the potential to multiply your team’s productivity. It’s important to make the process as seamless as possible. Contact us to learn more how we can help you with your transition.


Rick is President of OnPoint Consulting and has a twenty year track record of success as a human resource consultant and executive. He was a Founder and Managing Partner of Manus, a human capital consulting firm, which he sold to Right Management Consultants in 1998. At Right, Rick was the Managing Vice President of the Northeast Consulting Practice where he was responsible to 55 professionals and grew revenue from $7 million to $20 million.

The focus of Rick's work has been on helpi...

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