How Virtual Teams Rock

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Scenario: "Dude, you gotta meet each other in our offices to get things done. Yay!" 99.948739287432% of companies run their teams similarly:

  1. "Be on time at 9 a.m."
  2. "Do your work in your cubicles."
  3. "Take your lunch at 12 a.m."
  4. "We all meet at 2 p.m. to discuss!"
  5. Leave at 5 p.m."
  6. Yay!

Yet, what Worker Jeffy, Worker Jesse, and Worker Jacky really do throughout the day:

  1. Slacking off 70% of the time.
  2. Working the rest like a vicious slow-!@^^%^.
  3. Draining individual productivity like M.C. Hammer's buh-bling.

"Hey, we get paid based on fixed incomes," they tell themselves. "What's the incentive for working faster?" Result: $$$$$ lost in company productivity. If your team suffers from an production drainage, boost output/input like a villain by virtualizing them. We'll explain.


"Virtualizing" teams mean:

  1. Deploying every team member to work solo.
  2. Collaborating when necessary.

That removes "junk/trash/down"-time, dramatically increasing output-per-input.


Why Virtualizing Teams Boost Results

Virtualizing teams forces you to set clear destination points for them.

  1. Instead of compensating input, you start driving and rewarding productive output.
  2. Instead of paying "how many hours we've worked!," you start rewarding: "how much ass we've kicked!"
  3. Johnny Boy, now knowing his slack-off-time won't pay him diddly, accelerates his production-per-hour.

El Resulto: Ridiculously Sexio Resultos.

It's in The Research.

Researchers from USC and North Carolina, and a team of consultants researched the output generated by successful virtual teams in the Harvard Business Review's May 2004 issue -- finding:

  • "Several team members...contributed much more during virtual meetings than...face-to-face settings."
  • "[They] felt compelled to articulate their views more precisely than if they had depended on visual cues."
  • "Although many did affirm the value, in theory, of meeting together in the same room, few in practice found it essential."
  • "Holding such traditional meetings would have harmed the teams' work processes."
  • "Everyone expects [meetings] to be where the real work will take place and avoids doing anything of value until the meeting occurs. Our [virtual team] leaders dealt with that problem by never holding one."
  • "Decisions in a complex project have to be made continually. Postponing them until everyone assembles slows everything down - way, way down."


How to Virtualize Your Teams

Simple two-step process:

  1. Set a clear objective + deadline.

    For instance: Case ^1: "Finish 5-page informational website for YoMama Associates, by April 5th, 2006 @ 5:00 p.m." works more rad-ass than: Case ^2: "Work for 8 hours on the website, and see what you get done. Yay!" Then when you've set your objective + deadline, start setting compelling rewards if teams meet those objectives + deadlines -- e.g. bonuses, promotion, trips, etc.
  2. Step 2: Connect the team through collaborative tools.

    Without tight collaboration, you'll generate a team with clashing interests/ideas/goals. [The researchers found the best teams communicated regularly (i.e. once/day).] Fortunately for your badass, you're living in a Web 2.0! world filled with collaborative tools, project management applications, and wikis to keep you connected. (Tip: Google "collaboration tool" -- and you'll find a host of solutions.) If you have the bling, consider a customized collaborative solution.

Sidebar: The Awesomeness of Virtualization

Once you get the hang of virtualizing your teams, you get your pick of: (1) The most amazingly awesome workers (2) from anywhere around the world (3) at the best possible prices. Instead of limiting yourself to Johnny Boy's abilities, you open a can of optimal ass-kicking. Your team sucks at design? Don't fret. Let's hire Efrain in Japan. Win.



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Posted on March 20

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