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    Toulouse - Virtual Teams - Definition, Benefits, Issues...

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    MOperto
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    Date d'inscription : 05/12/2006

    Toulouse - Virtual Teams - Definition, Benefits, Issues...

    Message par MOperto le Ven 30 Nov - 13:51

    Virtual Team

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_team

    A Virtual Team — also known as a Geographically Dispersed Team (GDT) — is a group of individuals who work across time, space, and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technology. They have complementary skills and are committed to a common purpose, have interdependent performance goals, and share an approach to work for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Geographically dispersed teams allow organizations to hire and retain the best people regardless of location. Members of virtual teams communicate electronically, so they may never meet face to face. However, most teams will meet at some point in time. A virtual team does not always mean teleworker. Teleworkers are defined as individuals who work from home. Many virtual teams in today's organizations consist of employees both working at home and small groups in the office but in different geographic locations.

    What is a virtual team?

    There are several different definitions of virtual teams, but what these definitions have in common is that, in addition to being a team, virtual team members are physically separated (by time and / or space) and that virtual team members primarily interact electronically. This researcher defines virtual teams as teams of people who primarily interact electronically and who may meet face-to-face occasionally.


    Reasons for virtual teams in the workplace:

    Reasons for virtual teams center around the differences in time and space for team members.

    Team members may not be physically collocated.
    It may not be practical to travel to meet face-to-face.
    Team members may work different shifts
    Specifically, teams may be distributed because of the new realities facing organizations such as:
    • organization-wide projects or initiatives
    • alliances with different organizations, some of which may be in other countries
    • mergers and acquisitions
    • emerging markets in different geographic locations
    • the desire of many people and government organizations for telecommuting
    • the continuing need for business travel and information and communications technologies available to support this travel
    • a need to reduce costs
    • a need to reduce time-to-market or cycle time in general (the increasing velocity in business)
    • A flexible organization is more competitive and responsive to the marketplace.
    • Workers tend to be more productive; i.e., they spend less time on commuting and travel
    • The increasing globalization of trade and corporate activity.
    • The global workday is 24 vs. 8 hours.
    • The emergence of environments which require inter-organizational cooperation as well as competition.
    • Changes in workers' expectations of organizational participation.
    • A continued shift from production to service/knowledge work environments.
    • Increasing horizontal organization structures characterized by structurally and geographically distributed human resources.

    Benefits of virtual teams:

    • Worker talent not limited to one location -- This is the biggest defining difference between virtual teams versus traditional teams. With virtual teams, workers can be recruited and utilized no matter where they are geographically located. This greatly expands the talent pool available to an organization as workers can be dispersed anywhere throughout the globe.

    • Increase in productivity -- Virtual teams often see an increase in productivity because more personal flexibility is achieved, commute time is reduced, and work is not limited by the traditional 9-5 work day schedule. This advantage can translate to a much faster time to market for new products and technology.

    • Extends market opportunity -- Another benefit of geographically dispersed teams is direct access to different market opportunities. Having work teams located in different areas of the world allows organizations to have direct market presence with customers worldwide.

    • Greatly reduces costs -- One of the biggest advantages organizations realize from virtual teams is a huge reduction in travel, which results in big cost savings.

    • Increased job satisfaction -- This can be looked at as a somewhat indirect benefit of working on a virtual team, but a benefit none the less. Workers who are allowed to work virtually often are much happier on the job because they have more control over their hours, projects, etc. Increased job satisfaction almost always means better performance.


    Problems with virtual teams:

    While there are many advantages to utilizing a virtual team, the benefits are not inherent in the establishment of the team itself. There are some risk factors that need to be recognized at the outset. Some of the risks that can affect a virtual team's effectiveness include:
    • Miscommunication problems are more likely to occur -- Virtual teams can be plagued by miscommunication when they lose face-to-face interaction, if they are not careful. This can derail an entire project so ground rules should be laid out at the outset.

    • Lack of project visibility -- Care must be taken so that workers feel a part of the big picture. In order to maintain the advantage of increased productivity, teams need to know their part in the entire project as a whole.

    • Logistic difficulties -- If teams are dispersed across different time zones, it can be very difficult to get in touch with one another. It can be difficult for team members to obtain the meanings of text-based messages. It is important to establish the agreed upon means of communication at the outset.

    If care is taken to deal with some of the potential problems at the outset of the establishment of the virtual team, your company is likely to experience great benefits as a result

    Virtual Team-Concerns & Challenges


    Having employees working in a virtual workplace poses some concerns and challenges, most of which would be eliminated by working in a physical office. Most of these challenges stem from the lack of face-to-face interactions among team members.
    • Companies must compensate for the lack of human contact, and find appropriate ways to support team spirit, trust and productivity.
    • Leaders must be especially sensitive to interpersonal, communication and cultural factors.
    • No trust, no team. Trust is a top factor in determining virtual team success. But interpersonal trust, compared to task-level trust (a faith that team members will do their job) is more difficult to achieve in a virtual environment.
    • Team building pays off. Virtual teams that invest time in team building perform better than those that don't.
    • Team performance tends to drop off after one year. Attention must be paid to interpersonal, communication and cultural factors to prevent a "peak-and-decline" syndrome.
    • Technology makes virtual teaming possible, but isn't a perfect substitute for human interaction. Teams must be careful to use the appropriate technology for various tasks.
    • While meeting in person requires time and expense, virtual teams that meet once or twice a year perform better overall than those that don't meet. To help make an easy transition from a physical office to virtual workplaces for employees, organizations have created “virtual water coolers” and chat rooms to encourage employee interaction and communication.

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