I believe this is a common question when facing global project teams and organization demands for agility.
The good news for project managers and team leaders is that the answer is: Yes, virtual teams can be agile and they need to!
Some of the challenges faced by virtual teams as communication and decision making problems can be addressed with agile practices as stand up meetings combined with Kanban and Design Thinking.
Daily stand up meetings propitiate virtual teams a faster communication, aligning issues that could take days and several mails exchange to be addressed without these meetings. It also supports the leader measurement of individual’s engagement and skills while following up results.
The use of online tools for visual collaboration with the adoption of Kanban can provide virtual teams the visibility of tasks completed, ongoing and what needs to be done next, removing solutions complexity. Other example is the application of Design thinking to help teams resolve problems faster and activily participate on the decisions making process.
Agile projects must have a well defined goals and a team with resources from different knowledge (and why not different locations?). These practices also encourage shared leadership and individual’s ownership. It leverages teams maturity and knowledge share, that will contribute to teams trust build.
Virtual teams need trust, maturity, leadership, knowledge sharing, well defined goals, performance management and faster communication to transform and delivery better results. These are the reasons why virtual teams need to be agile and management need to proceed with these practices adoption.