Home office, who would not like to do that. The freedom in scheduling work hours, having family and children around are reason enough to stay at home, not go to the office or be on the road. However, this is accompanied by changes in the organization of working together and the implementation of joint tasks or projects. Particularly in international constellations, carrying out virtual projects is more exciting, but also more challenging for everyone involved.
What are the main challenges?
1. Mastering the complexity of the project organization
Due to the fact that several companies or subsidiaries are involved in the execution of the project, the organization is often not easy. Creating meetings that everyone can attend or setting times when everyone is available is a challenge. Due to the fact that people live in different time zones and sometimes have different work schedules, it takes good organization to schedule meetings.
Tip: Schedule a meeting at the beginning of the week to update team members on the latest developments and progress of the project.
2. Master cultural differences in a virtual way
Working with people whose cultures are very different is another challenge. The most important thing is to accept and embrace each other’s cultures and values.
A disadvantage can also be an advantage: Due to the international orientation, the diversity of ideas is also much higher. Different views of the culture, different values and norms cause each member to see issues within the project from a different perspective and to evaluate them differently. New ideas and approaches can emerge. For the manager, it is therefore important to accept the cultures and customs of the individual team members and to welcome and embrace new ideas and ideas.
3. Creating virtual proximity
In order to become familiar and acquainted with the project and the project team, it helps to create “virtual closeness” in regular exchanges. The goal is to build a virtual community that trusts each other and can thus increase productivity within the project. Trust can only take place through conscious interaction with each other. In addition, the willingness of the project members to put in more effort in interacting is necessary in advance. Communication platforms like Microsoft Teams have recognized that interactivity with other participants is very important, especially in the home office.
Read the blog article about the new features presented at Microsoft Ignite Fall 2021 to find out what opportunities Microsoft Teams will offer its users in the future.
Create infrastructure for virtual collaboration
In the end, participants are responsible for the extent to which they exploit the possibilities of interactivity. In addition to the possibilities offered by Microsoft Teams, it is especially beneficial if the participants create an interpersonal basis to grant good cooperation. One way to do this is to teach the so-called Pink Space
Pink Space as the cornerstone of collaboration
A method of promoting collaboration and diversity is to distribute colors for each country or culture. This means, for example, that one team member from China is assigned “red”, the member from the USA is assigned “blue”, etc. At a virtual meeting, all members come together in one room, the “pink space”. In this room, colors no longer play a role. The “pink space” deliberately stands for global cooperation and cultural diversity, which is exploited to the fullest.
This creates awareness in advance of the basis for collaboration.
Getting to know each other: speed dating
The possibilities provided by communication platforms like Microsoft Teams can be perfectly used for speed dating as a game of getting to know each other. All team members are in a common room and are then assigned to breakout sessions. Here, two members are in a room and have one minute to introduce each other and tell something about themselves. This is done in turns.
Depending on the size of the project, the team leader may ask everyone to briefly introduce their speed dating partner to the group. This allows the employees to all get to know each other in a short period of time. Depending on the size of the group, the project leader can also specify that each employee introduce themselves to the other in the form of speed dating.
By getting to know each other in a relaxed manner, trust can be built up that extends beyond the project if there is willingness on the part of the project manager as well as the team. From trust and belonging to the team, the role of responsibility for the team grows from each member.
The manager or project leader therefore has the task of creating the conditions that would lead to the success of the project even in physical contact.
4. Working hours
In the office, working hours are clearly defined. Remotely, employees have more freedom in how they organize their working hours. That is why it is even more important, especially in projects, to discuss when one can be reached. The freedoms should be clearly defined, as should the obligations that everyone has in the project. Especially in international teams with people from different time zones, it is important to define a time frame for availability.