How virtual teams empower corporate culture?

Corporate culture is a watchword for modern businesses.

Although interpreted differently by managers and employees, no one questions the importance of engaging and comfortable working atmosphere and office environment. Moreover, if one is to look up to the most successful companies, the new book, published by Google executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, and an adviser to Google CEO, Jonathan Rosenberg (together with Alan Eagle), How Google Works, emphasizes the values and necessity of a strong company culture.
 
The book answers the question: “How do you build a successful business?” exploring the steps modern entrepreneurs should undertake to reach success. Tackling with subjects of decision-making, hiring, organizational structure, communication, strategy, talent, creativity and corporate culture, all of equal importance for every business, whether it’s a small family businesses, start-up or a big company, one thing is certain, as Schmidt put it, it all starts with culture
 
Accordingly, the question is: What is Corporate Culture?
 
Finding a job is becoming harder every year, and employee turnover is very expensive for companies, still, every month over 2 million US employees leave their job and 70% are “not engaged” at work, which brings less productivity with employees being emotionally disconnected from their workplace. Another study showed that 53% of women with technical degrees leave the industry after their first post-MBA job. According to the Gallup report, worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged in their work (66% in Western Europe are not engaged).
 
While numerous reasons lead to changing job, if an employee would easily choose to pursue a career in a more satisfying company, the team will lose a member, the company might be forced to hire on emergency (new hiring costs), and the department might lose expertise and fail to bring results. Failing to invest in talented team members reflects on company’s value and mission. Keeping unhappy, underperforming employee is influencing workforce, customer engagement, revenue, company’s image and future. Today, companies are not solely competing on the market with concurrent products or services, or for customers and revenue, the most successful companies are competing on work ethic – how they treat, value and respect their employees and if they are willing to invest in their teams.
 
Defining the term as elusive as corporate culture is a difficult task. Corporate culture refers to a group of people who work in synergy to achieve a goal, and represents their behaviour, believes and interactions within a company and outside. While for one employee, a new job in a respected and promising company might bring excitement and ambition-driven performance, for others, might trigger dissatisfaction and poor results, which, in turn, for the company can result in high costs for business.
 
Most companies believe they have created a culture in which each employee feels understood and valued, comfortable to say the least, however, corporate culture includes other factors such as outside interests, willingness to take risks or accept new technologies, fun and quality free time, and more. Building a good corporate culture is beyond setting up a “living room” furnished with beanbag chairs and a Ping-Pong table (although the interior certainly has its role).
 
Understood as a group of people who work together in synergy to bring the best results and achieve the goal, how virtual teams fit into the idea of building a strong, positive corporate culture?
 
How virtual teams are able to empower corporate culture?
 
Regardless of their destination, the companies are eager to hire talented people, but virtual teams can lack in many features, such as clear direction, trust and engagement, if the company continues to treat virtual teams as the teams that share the office physically.
 

  • Teambuilding and Good Leaders

 
Team building and other interpersonal activities are created to connect the team members on more levels, and for virtual teams, these exercises, if done properly, result in putting great leaders at place and creating a team of people who share more than just skills and knowledge, but rather a similar mindset . In a strong company culture, good leaders know how to communicate, delegate and listen, and without them, a team can lose cohesive teamwork. Virtual teams can now exercise team building through numerous activities, many of which are designed to bring more than expertise and technical skills, putting interpersonal skills first. 
 

  • Communication, People Issues and Shared Leadership

 
By supporting team spirit and trust, virtual teams compensate for the lack of human contact. The structure and nature of virtual teams differ in many ways, and very often, the signs of shaken team spirit and trust are easily noticeable. For remote workflow, communication between managers and the team is crucial. Asking questions creates an atmosphere in which the discourse between the team members and leaders are encouraged, an atmosphere in which team members feel valued, listened to and respected. This type of informal communication can promote and foster shared leadership.  Shared leadership, on the other hand, keeps the team focused and productive by finding ways to include others more directly in leading the team. Sharing best practices, or assigning members to coach others in their areas of expertise, or to help and coach new members, running  a virtual team-building, all these responsibilities bring the team closer and more engaged.
 
According to a survey by Cisco, virtual teams are able to outperform face-to-face teams.  Teleworkers who worked remotely were 69 percent more productive and 83 percent of teleworkers were of the opinion that communication with other team members was enhanced.  Another research, conducted in 2009, included 80 software companies around the world, and showed that dispersed teams very often outperform teams that share physical space.
 
Virtual teams are becoming more prevalent, and company’s office is becoming more of a concept.  Corporate culture, however, is a powerful driving force for modern businesses.
 
 

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