Five tips for stopping team freeriders

Addressing the problem of virtual team freeloaders

One of the biggest problems in virtual teams is freeriding (aka freeloading or loafing) where certain team members do not pull their weight.

This is a particular issue for virtual teams, virtual networks and virtual communities as research shows it is easier to break a (virtual) commitment to someone you rarely meet than a (physical) commitment to someone you see all the time.

(That’s why the telephone seems to be the preferred communication channel for people who wish to conceal or embellish the truth.)

In the world of biological teams the very same problem exists – it is known as parasitism.

For example ant colonies in particular are plagued by parasitic beetles which trick the ants into feeding them on a regular basis.

Five tips for stopping team freeriding

  1. Make sure you have a real relationship with your team members

    This is easier to do this if you can physically meet the other members of your team. However it is not impossible to have a real relationship with someone you have never met – it's just a bit harder.

  2. Develop a set of team ground rules

    Ground Rules define what constitutes freeriding and what the sanctions should be when its spotted. This can be addressed initially in a fun way such as 'Freeloader of the Month' awards.

  3. Only make important commitments

    Make sure that each commitment is actually important to the person making it and the person asking for it. The commitments which are most likely to be broken are the ones that seem like ‘nice-to-haves’ – it is better to have short must-do commitment lists rather than long wish lists.

  4. Have a Transparency & Reputation System

    Some of the best self-managed teams today are OSS (Open Source Software) Teams where there is no command and control structure. Things get done here mostly because of the individual team members desire to manage and enhance their reputations with their community peers. ‘Name and shame’ via a commitment register showing the live status of all commitments, which all team members can see, is one way to do this.

  5. Have a reminder system

    Even if people sincerely intend to deliver their commitments in busy teams they can easily forget. Put in place simple reminder systems (avoiding a command and control style) to help team members remember their commitments in advance of their due dates.

Tags: ,

Comments (0)| Related (3) |

Print this article


Bioteams Books Reviews

Animal Instincts in the office

Animal Instincts in the office

Just because we might have selfish genes it does not mean we have to behave selfishly; nature knows when to be nice as well as nasty and nepotism occurs in the biological world too with equal destructiveness as our world. This is according to Richard Conniff author of The Ape in the Corner Office and reviewed in the UK Guardian Newspaper (27 May).

Buy it now from:


continue reading

Click here to check all Bioteams book reviews

Ken's LinkedIn Profile

Follow Ken's Blogs

NASA Widget2_160x40.jpg


Featured Categories

Trending Topics

agility analytics ants autopoiesis bees biomimicry bioteaming bioteams change management collaboration Collaboration collective intelligence community complex systems dashboards digital dashboards ecosystems excel experiential learning flock games high-performing teams HPT innovation leadership learning meetings mobile phones organizational teams penguins pheromones self-managed teams serious games simulators social media Social Networks social networks social software swarm swarm intelligence swarmteams teams teamwork The Networked Enterprise tit for tat VEN videos virtual communities virtual enterprise virtual enterprise networks virtual teams visualization web2.0 wisdom of crowds

Click for more...

Featured Article

Team joining hands

The secret DNA of high-performing virtual teams

Bioteaming – the secret to high-performing, self-organising, virtually networked teams... more

Locations of visitors to this page

Bioteams iphone app
Bioteams android app


Bioteams Lite


Latest Full Articles

Bioteams Assessor - Instantly check how good your team is?
BioScore Calculator – Instantly see if you need Bioteams
Discover Bioteams principles Yourself via Action Learning

Bioteams Manifesto

Communities and Networks Connection

Bioteams Ice-Breaker Zone

Only Fools and Horses Video Clip Funny Team Collaboration Video Dilbert Mission Statement Generator Ali G Video Funny Red Dwarf Video  FatherTed  Pixar

News Feed

Sign up for RSS   RSS Feed Subscription
        (What's RSS?)

10 Most popular posts

Recent posts


Download Browsealoud