Virtual Teams

 In Workgroups

It is inevitable that organizations are becoming more and more virtual due to technological advances. In earlier research, virtual teams have been defined quite rigidly, strictly focusing on groups in which members communicate solely using technology and who are usually geographically dispersed (DeSanctis & Monge, 1999; Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999). More recent research discusses the “virtuality” level of any team.

Simply put, they describe how much do group members work together online versus face-to-face (Peñarroja, Orengo, Zornoza & Hernández, 2013). Kirkman and Mathieu (2007) describe “team virtuality” as the “the extent to which team members use virtual tools to coordinate and execute team processes” (p. 702). The notion of “virtuality” becomes a continuum and a characteristic of any group. Martins, Gilson, and Maynard’s (2004) define virtual teams as “teams whose members use technology to varying degrees in working across locational, temporal, and relational boundaries to accomplish an interdependent task” (p. 808).

Our experiences with virtual teams and virtual organizations helped us become sensitive to the challenges and opportunities presented by different virtuality levels. The challenge in building trust online with a virtual client system lies in the fact that there are only a few instances where consultant and client system meet face-to-face. In addition, it is difficult to feel a sense of ownership in a project where most of the communication and team is only visible virtually. Miscommunication, lack of visible cues and body language are often challenges of online communication. Nonetheless, we are experienced in navigating through those challenges and have successfully helped virtual teams foster trusting relationships online and become highly performing and efficient.

Featured Case Study: SPEAKout Organization For the Arts and Community Awareness

Based in: Toronto, Canada 

Length of mandate: 7 months

Summary: Please click here to see an example of our work with a highly virtual system. SPEAKout is a non-profit arts-based non-profit organization has hosted some of the most prestigious spoken word art events in North America. Their impact has reached thousands of poets and young artists worldwide. We designed a process to help their team along with key members of their extended community co-create their Manifesto statement and get feedback on their strategic directions.

For the detailed case study paper, please contact us.

References:

DeSanctis, G., & Monge, P. (1999). Introduction to the special issue: Communication

processes for virtual organizations. Organization Science, 10(6), 693-703.

Jarvenpaa, S. L., & Leidner, D. E. (1999). Communication and trust in global virtual

teams. Organization Science, 10, 791-815.

Kirkman, B., & Mathieu, J. (2007). The dimensions and antecedents of team virtuality. Journal of Management, 31(5), 700-718.

Martins, L. L., Gilson, L., & Maynard, M. (2004). Virtual teams: What do we know and where do we go from here? Journal of Management, 30(6), 805-835.

Peñarroja, V., Orengo V., Zornoza, A., and Hernández, A. (2013). The effects of virtuality level on task-related collaborative behaviors: The mediating role of team trust. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 967-974.

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