Effective Virtual Teams

Effective Virtual Teams

D. Sandy Staples, Ian K. Wong, Ann-Frances Cameron
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch202
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Virtual teams are now being used by many organizations to enhance the productivity of their employees and to bring together a diversity of skills and resources (Gignac, 2005; Majchrzak, Malhotra, Stamps, & Lipnack, 2004), and it has been suggested that this will become the normal way of working in teams in the near future (Jones, Oyund, & Pace, 2005). Virtual teams are groups of individuals who work together from different locations (i.e., are geographically dispersed), work at interdependent tasks, share responsibilities for outcomes, and rely on technology for much of their communication (Cohen & Gibson, 2003). While the use of virtual teams is more common in today’s organization, working in these teams is more complex and challenging than working in traditional, collocated teams (Dewar, 2006), and success rates in virtual teams are low (Goodbody, 2005). This article suggests best practices that organizations and virtual team members can follow to help their virtual teams reach their full potential. In this article, virtual team best practices are identified from three perspectives: organizational best practices, team leadership best practices, and team member best practices. Ideas for best practices were identified from three sources: six case studies of actual virtual teams (Staples, Wong, & Cameron, 2004); the existing literature on virtual teams; and the existing literature on traditional (i.e., collocated) teams and telecommuting (i.e., research on virtual work at the individual level).
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E-commerce can be viewed as a set of processes that support commercial activities within an information network (Chaves, Martins, Monteiro, & Boavida, 2002). These activities produce information about products, events, services, suppliers, consumers, publicists, transactions, advanced search algorithms, transactional security, authentication, and so forth. In brief, e-commerce entails the development of a business vision, supported by information technology with the goal of enhancing efficiency within the process of trade (Adam, Dogramaci, Gangopadhyay, & Yesha, 1999). The fact that this technology is so fast, transactions require less human interaction and a greater reliance on autonomous software agents (Chaves, Simões, & Monteiro, 2003).

Web Services

WS are a new kind of Web application. They are self-contained, self-describing and modular applications that can be published, located, and invoked across the Web. WS perform functions, which can be anything from simple requests to complicated business processes. Once a WS is deployed, other applications (and other WS) can discover and invoke the deployed service (Lemahieu, 2001). WS can significantly increase the Web architecture’s potential, by providing a way of automated program communication, discovery of services, and so forth. Therefore, they are the focus of much interest from various software development companies (WSAP, 2000).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hybrid Team: A team (i.e., a group of individuals who work on interdependent tasks and who share responsibility for outcomes) in which some team members work in the same location and other members work remotely.

Instant Messaging (IM): Information systems that enable team members to exchange real time electronic messages and presence information (e.g., I’m off-line, online, busy, away, on the phone, etc.). Logs of the interaction can be captured, and some systems allow files to be exchanged.

Blog: A blog (short for Weblog) is a personal online journal, containing the author’s views and reflections on some topic about which he/she chooses to write.

Team Diversity: The combined variety of skills, backgrounds, experiences, ideas, thoughts, abilities, and perspectives that individuals bring to their team.

Virtual Team: A group of individuals who work together from different locations (i.e., are geographically dispersed), work at interdependent tasks, share responsibilities for outcomes, and rely on technology for much of their communication.

Organizational Culture: The collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one organization (or part of an organization) from another ( Hofstede, 1997 )

Telecommuting: The practice of working from the employee’s home instead of physically commuting to a company office location. The connection to the office is done via telecommunications, rather than physically commuting (i.e., travelling) to the office.

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