Difference Between Virtual and Traditional Teams

The key difference between virtual and traditional teams is that a virtual team is separated by a physical distance, whereas a traditional team works in physical proximity.

In general, a team is a group of people who work for a predefined task to achieve common objectives and targets. Traditional team or intact team is the most common type of team in a business environment. Other types of teams, such as virtual teams, have evolved from traditional teams.


1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What Traditional Teams
3. What are Virtual Teams
4. Relationship Between Virtual and Traditional Teams
5. Side by Side Comparison – Virtual vs Traditional Teams in Tabular Form
6. Summary

What are Traditional Teams?

A traditional team, also known as an intact team, is a  functional team in which experts work together and share a common path to achieve their team’s processes and goals. In some cases, traditional teams are an entire department. Leadership is undertaken by a senior-level manager. New recruitments to the team are based on their technical skills and competency. Traditional teams mostly engage in described routine jobs.

Typically, the traditional team is the most common type of team. Other types of teams are evolved from traditional team designs. Hence, they are so common and outlined by functional specialisation that they are often overlooked in terms of team development needs. It is generally accepted that these teams can operate without any guidance and support. However, support is significant when such teams form and becomes the ‘core’ of an organisation in many instances. Maximising effectiveness at the core through an organisational team strategy provides a very strong basis for ensuring overall effective organisational performance.

What are Virtual Teams?

A virtual team is a group of people who work for a common purpose but in separate locations. The concept of the virtual team has been introduced with the enhancement of technology. In these teams, people perform jobs in a virtual work environment created and maintained through IT and software technologies. The virtual team concept is relatively new to project management areas and IT. Most of the processes are outsourced in a virtual work environment. Since virtual team solely rely on electronic communication media, they work in different time zones and a variety of cultural boundaries. More diversified team members may work in a virtual team.

Virtual team management includes the following:

  1. Assembling – Probation periods are the measurable indicator to be applied when commencing with remote teamwork organization.
  2. Training – Team leader sets targets and develops the team member until he meets the standard level.
  3. Managing – Use of telecommunication technologies to manage ongoing projects and jobs of remote group members.
  4. Controlling – Team leader establishes performance indicators to evaluate the performance of team members.

What is the Relationship Between Virtual and Traditional Team?

Traditional team is the most common type of team in a business environment. Other team concepts evolved from traditional teams. However, the virtual team concept is relatively new and has evolved with technology advancement. Furthermore, it is generally seen in both types of teams that members are assigned with common objectives, targets, responsibilities and deadlines in the execution of work.

What is the Difference Between Virtual and Traditional Teams?

The key difference between virtual and traditional teams is that in a virtual team, members are separated by a physical distance while in a traditional team, members work closely in physical proximity.

The traditional or conventional team is primary and common while the virtual team has evolved with technology development. In selecting a traditional team member, it is adequate to evaluate his functional skills, but in selecting a virtual team member, it is required to evaluate core competencies such as computer literacy, dealing with diversified people and working in different time zones along with functional skills. Generally, a traditional team has a hierarchical organization structu,re whereas a virtual team has a flatter organization structure. So, this is also a significant difference between virtual and traditional teams. Furthermore, the leadership control is minimum in a virtual team whereas traditional team leaders have more command and control.

Besides, there can be more communication, collaboration and cultural issues in virtual teams than in traditional teams due to limited face to face interactions among members, time differences and global operations.

Summary – Virtual vs Traditional Teams

The key difference between virtual and traditional teams is that virtual team members work separately in distant locations and use information technology to communicate whereas traditional team members work closely, not separated by distance, and communicate through face to face interactions.


1. “Team Types and Their Characteristics: The Traditional ‘Intact’ Team.” The Odd Company, Available here.
2. McConnell, Eric, et al. “Virtual Teams – Definition, Management, Benefits, and Improvement.” Your Guide to Project Management Best Practices, 31 July 2019, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “2284501” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “2099068” (CC0) via Pixabay