Leading Virtual Teams, Globally: Virtual Leadership

Leading Virtual Teams, Globally: Virtual Leadership

Amanda S. Wickramasinghe (Pepperdine University, USA)
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJSMOC.305866
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Abstract

Virtual teams allow professionals to work across boundaries, borders, cultures, and time zones. A number of companies across the globe have adapted to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the year 2020, using platforms such as Zoom, WebEx, Skype and Microsoft Teams. Due to the pandemic, most professional organizations were forced to utilize virtual platforms to communicate because of the worldwide stay-at- home orders. These platforms allow professionals across the world to connect instantly (Frisch & Greene, 2020).Within that context, a virtual team's leader has a significant responsibility for leading the virtual team to success. The purpose of this study was to explore how to lead virtual global teams successfully. The study examined 25 global leaders' lived experiences utilizing qualitative research methodology and explored the phenomenon of leading virtual teams effectively (and successfully) through using the input and process outcome framework (Eyrich, Quinn & Fessell, 2019). Findings included an effective virtual leadership approach.
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Introduction To Virtual Teams

Virtual teams are defined (Powers, 2018) as any team collaborating to accomplish a set of objectives from various types of geographical locations (Brake, 2006). If you have ever worked on a team in a different location or geographic region, you have been part of a virtual team. Virtual teams have been around for decades (Powers, 2018). “In the early 20th century, widespread electricity and public transportation separated work and home even further by driving workers into offices equipped with telephones, telegraphs, and the typewriter” (Powers, 2018, p.2). This was just a percussor to virtual teams and collaborations. As technology advanced and the cost of transportation increased, organizations began utilizing employees to work remotely to advance professional growth and organizational revenue (Cascio & Shurygallo, 2003). Furthermore, telecommunicating exploded due to the Clean Air Act of 1990 and the OPEC oil crisis (Powers, 2018). J.C. Penny was one of the first organizations to deploy the telecommuting framework by hiring home-based call center employees (Powers, 2018).

In the 21st century, virtual teams gained more popularity due to cellular devices, email communications, computers, and the worldwide web (Powers, 2018). Fast forward to 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees were forced to shut their offices to slow the spread of the virus and had to create new plans to work remotely. Hence, the phrases work from home, and virtual teams gained immense popularity. To further extend this point, organizations recognized by working remotely can enter multiple markets and expand their global reach (Guerin, 2017).

Leading virtual teams has been at the forefront of nearly all organizations, both local and global. Virtual teams allow professionals to work across boundaries, borders, cultures, and time zones (Hunter, 2004). Several companies across the globe have adapted to remote work, although they have been presented with challenges such as lack of connectivity and face-to-face interactions (Kegeyan, 2016). To remedy such issues, virtual platforms such as Telephone, Email usage, social media, Zoom, WebEx, Skype, Microsoft Teams have been prominent in the workforce, especially since technology's advancement. Furthermore, educational institutions have utilized remote online learning methods in the past ten years to offer education worldwide and make education cost-effective and accessible (Guerin, 2017).

Due to the pandemic, most organizations were forced to utilize virtual platforms (listed above) to communicate because of the worldwide stay-at-home orders. These platforms allow professionals across the world in an instant moment to connect. (Frisch & Greene, 2020). With the increased use of virtual teams (to almost 100%) in the year 2020, the importance of virtual leadership and teams is paramount. They are prominent because of its flexibility and allows organizations to enter various international markets and expand branding across different nations (Hunter, 2004).

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