Virtual Team And The Challenges For The HR Manager

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 19742 , Published on 10 June 2012

Effectiveness of any team depends on how its members collaborate among themselves, the camaraderie they share and how they align themselves to work together so as to achieve the slated goal of the team. On an individual level, it depends on the level of motivation- both extrinsic and intrinsic. Also, other factors like Organization Fit, Culture Fit and Team Fit plays an important part as to how an individual contributes in a Team.

Thus, the role of an HR Manager is to ensure that people who are selected to be a part of a team are efficient enough to contribute at all levels – individual, team and Organizational. It means that an HR Manager’s role becomes crucial in following right practices for all of its functions i.e. Recruitment, Selection, Training and the Development and Appraisal.


Definition – A virtual team is one in which people work together to meet the common team goals and tasks but may not meet face to face. They may be separated by distance, time or Organizational Boundaries.



The diagram below explains the whole Process of a Virtual Team.



With the advent of Globalization, boundaries whether it is Cultural, Organizational or Geographical has diminished. Now, companies are favouring teams which are working across boundaries, in different locations and across different time zones. Workings of such teams are both time saving and cost effective. Hence, the concept of Virtual Teams is gaining importance day by day. Also, the need of such teams is increasing day-by-day, as they are incurring less cost to the company, both in their working as well as functioning. Many IT Companies, presently, are using the concept of such teams.



In an Organization an HR Manager has various roles and responsibilities. There are various stages under which an HR Manager’s acumen and skills are tested. It’s his/her duty to estimate the workforce, the mode of recruitment, selection process to be followed, training methods to be imparted , appraisal methods to be followed etc. When it comes to handling of Virtual Teams these responsibilities increases four-fold.

For the success of a Virtual Team an HR Manager has to keep following points in his/her mind.

  • Establishing a proper mode of communication (e.g. Videoconferencing, e-mail, Skype etc.). An effective mode of communication should be established so that proper communication can be maintained among Team Members.
  • Members Selection – Members who are supposed to work in such Teams should possess certain necessary skills (Comfortable with IT, communication skills etc.)
  • Identifying ways so as proper rapport can be established between Team Members.
  • Motivating and keeping Members interested can be a challenge. Hence, certain ways such as monetary reward, non-monetary award etc. should be devised, so that Members of such a Team remain focused at their work and are willing to contribute to the Team’s cause.
  • Appropriate method of training should be designed so that Members are constantly updating their skills and building their competencies as per Industry requirement and standards.
  • Defining the quantum of work, deciding as to how the employees will be paid (hourly basis or on the basis of output).

Let’s have a look what all the challenges an HR Manager faces in performing his/her tasks when it comes to handling of Virtual Teams.


Face-to-Face interview has always been a traditional form of interview which the organizations have preferred as a selection process. For Recruitment & Selection of individuals for a Virtual Team, HR Managers now take help of e-recruitment system. Portals such as, etc. is effective in this regard.  Telephonic Interviews, Videoconferencing etc. is a favoured mode of Selection process for forming such Teams.

The greatest Challenge an HR Manager faces in this mode of Recruitment & Selection is that they have to take a risk of selecting a candidate whom they have never seen Face-to-Face . So the moot point is that whether they are willing to take that amount of risk. Seeing the working nature of such Teams, it will be prudent on the part of Managers to resort to these modes of Recruitment & Selection which is quiet effective both in terms of saving costs as well as time.


An ideal way of Orientation and Training is gathering team members together at one place and impart necessary skills and knowledge. But the way a Virtual Teams works adds constraint to it. Thus, an HR Manager has to innovate in selecting the media via which training will be provided. E-learning, training through Teleconferencing, Videoconferencing etc. may be used by an Organization depending on effectiveness and affordability.

Apart from giving technical knowledge, the challenges for an HR Managers is to establish a well defined purpose for the team, develop cohesion among team members, clarifying roles and responsibilities for each and every team member and building rapport and relationship among Team members.


Traditionally performance as seen by Managers was getting tangible results, number of hours put in office, the relationship an employee shared with managers etc.  In a virtual Team appraisal policy has to be set based on the results only.

According to Herzberg’s two factor theory, employees get de-motivated in the absence of content factor (Meaningful and Interesting work, career advancement, achievement, recognition etc.) while absence of context factors (salary, company policy, work condition etc) merely causes dissatisfaction but not de-motivation.

Hence, reward mechanism designed should be such that it intrinsically motivates employees. Companies can use Intranet to display name of employee.. Apart from monetary award, awards can be of the form of Recognition of Achievements like “Employee of the Month”, “Best Employee” etc. Thus, the challenge of an HR Manager is to devise ways to recognize the quantum of work done by each employee and establish suitable mechanism of rewarding them for the nature of work performed. Also, Challenge lies in the way and the medium through which all this will be communicated within the Team.


Virtual Team is rewarding both to an Organization as well as its employees. For an Organization it’s the revenue they make, while for employees it’s the flexibility (both in time as well as work) they get for being a member of a virtual team. Hence, an HR manager has to accept the challenge of supporting Virtual Team and keep on innovating and developing new skills so as to ensure that both Organization as well as its Employees is benefited in long run.

This article has been authored by Divyanshu and Kaushal Kishore from TAPMI.


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