Chapter 11. High-Performing Virtual Teams

A decade ago it was rare to work on a virtual team. Today, virtual teams are everywhere. What’s changed? First, companies are increasingly global, with office locations in numerous countries, which means that many teams simply cannot be co-located. Second, advances in communication technology have dramatically lowered the costs of coordinating across distances, thereby making it more cost-effective to create and manage virtual teams. Finally, companies face increasingly complex business problems that require the contributions of people with varied knowledge who reside in different locations and time zones. Research by the Gartner group shows that in the year 2000, 45 percent of an employee’s time was spent working with people in other locations while 55 percent was spent working alone or with people in the same location.[1] Gartner projects that by 2010, 55 percent of a typical employee’s time will be spent working on virtual teams. This trend suggests that a company’s ability to manage virtual teams effectively will be critical to success.

In this chapter we address important questions related to how to manage virtual teams effectively:

How does a virtual team differ from a traditional team?

What are the common problems of managing virtual teams?

How do you do team building in a virtual team?

How Virtual Teams Differ from Traditional Teams

Virtual teams differ from traditional teams in at least three ways:

  1. Greater diversity in work norms and ...

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