To lower the chance of COVID-19 spreading throughout the workplace, millions of people started working remotely this year. Leading remote and virtual teams will continue for at least the foreseeable future. Since the pandemic started in late 2019, two keywords have been repeated in business circles: “remote” and “virtual.”

These two words are often used interchangeably by many people, as though they mean the exact same thing. Despite the general meaning being the same, there are subtle differences that can be crucial for small business owners and managers in different industries.

Your office should be able to distinguish between remote and virtual discussions. Are you unsure why? Remote is not always virtual. Not all virtual teams work remotely. Understanding the difference between each is helpful to understanding leading remote and virtual teams.

Define Remote Teams

What is remote? Remote team structures are those that have all members who are physically separated from each other but report to one manager.

This is where the key lies: Every team member falls under one person’s responsibility, usually a leader or manager.

Imagine a company with ten medical writers working on each issue of a publication that is sent to clients. Each one works remotely from their home offices.

Each author writes on a different topic in a specific issue of a publication. They all report to the same manager, which is a commonality.

The manager directs each employee to the next issue, assigns tasks, and makes all personnel decisions for the team.

A remote team is formed to work on the same project and each member reports to the same leader. This model may not be applicable to everyone because they might live in different countries or cities. Remote work is common in many industries, especially in technology and small businesses around the world.

What’s a Virtual Team?

There are many employees in virtual teams. Although they can sometimes be physically separated from one another, this is not always true. They all work together on one project.

They each report to a different supervisor. This is the key difference. Imagine a large hospital creating a COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

This team should include a variety of professionals such as nurses, technologists, doctors and social workers.

Although each professional may be based at a different place, some may be located on the same campus. They all report to someone in their respective departments – nurses report to a nurse manager, pharmacists to the pharmacy manager, and so on.

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This virtual team works in this way because each member of the team has the knowledge, tools, and equipment necessary to contribute meaningfully to the project.

As an example, let’s say the social worker reports to the pharmacy manager. In this case, the social worker may not have the tools necessary to contribute to the team.

A virtual team is simply a group of people working together on a project. Each member reports to a different manager.

The Advantages and Drawbacks Of Each Model

How do you decide which team structure is best for your company? You may be able to make an informed decision by understanding the pros and cons of each model.

Remote teams

  • Low overhead costs are possible as there is no office space, furniture or utility bills to pay.
  • High employee satisfaction rates are common.
  • Talent from all over the world can be used.
  • Avoid social contact with each other as there is very little interaction.
  • Customers who don’t understand the remote team model tend to have lower customer ratings.
  • This presents a greater data security risk.

Virtual teams

  • There are no restrictions on your work hours.
  • Offer greater scalability.
  • You will experience higher productivity.
  • Because each member reports to a different leader, it tends to make the group more fractured.
  • Different leadership styles can lead to greater communication gaps.

Make the Right Choice to Meet Your Needs

It is unlikely that the remote vs. digital debate will end soon. It will continue to be a topic of debate as companies attempt to establish a new normal over the coming days and weeks.

You can make the right decision whether you are looking for a remote or virtual model to suit your company’s needs. Understanding the requirements of your project, your employees’ needs, and your brand culture will help you make the right decision.

Contact Signature Workspace

Signature Workspace offers fully-equipped solutions in Tampa with two locations on Dale Mabry and Northdale and Clearwater. You can use shared workspaces, private office spaces, conference rooms as you need them, virtual offices, and many other options all equipped with everything you need from furniture to wireless Internet. This is an affordable and viable option for many companies. Contact Signature Workspace to get more information on how leading remote and virtual teams can be beneficial in the world of coworking. Check out what our clients have to say about our spaces for rent.