Virtual teams are become more and more popular as the world becomes more connected; furthermore, research is suggesting that virtual teams are as effective as face-to-face teams (Baker, 2002). This chapter compares and contrasts virtual teams with face-to-face teams in order to determine what differences exist as the workplace become virtual. It investigates how relationships between team members change when geographic boundaries are removed and how managers should adjust managerial styles when leading a virtual team. Also, a discussion of team dynamics—including the development of trust, team cohesion, and communication barriers—is included. Tips and techniques for developing an effective team are provided for virtual team managers.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Trust: In team work, trust occurs when other team members can depend on each other to complete their portion of the project on time. Trust among team members is essential to a team’s success, whether the team meets virtually or FTF.
FTF Team: A face-to-face (otherwise known as traditional) team is a group of people working collaboratively on the same project(s) work in the same geographic location.
Virtual Team: A group of people working collaboratively on the same project(s) working in different geographic locations; virtual teams use CMTs to communicate across their boundary-less work space.
CMT: Communication-mediated technologies are the technological tools used by virtual teams to communicate. Examples of CMTs include instant messaging, e-mail, and phone or video conferences. CMT is a common term in empirical research for defining the technologies used by virtual teams.
Non-Verbal Cues: Non-verbal cues, such as body language and tone of voice, serve as insights into the emotional state of other people. Because virtual teams are made up of people in different geographical locations, team members must learn to communicate differently because the non-verbal cues have been removed.
Cohesion: The ability of a team to work together collaboratively. A cohesive team is made up of a well-balanced group of individuals, all working towards the same goal.