In recent years, the advancement of technology has led to the globalisation of business which demands better prosperity of business through long distances. Virtual work has therefore emerged as a solution for distance imposing a barrier. It consists of individuals collaborating on a common organisational task, forming a social system. However, organisational leaders fear the consequences of executing a virtual approach instead of their usual traditional ways. Therefore, the phenomenon of virtual teamwork will be analysed; using management concepts to reveal the benefits and challenges of this approach and measures that managers can take to link virtual and real world of teamwork for avoiding interruptions in workplace.
Increased productivity and cost reduction
Organisations use virtual teamwork to effectively use the employee skills regardless of the geographical location of the business. Therefore, it maximises the flexibility of the team as less physical movement is involved and people from different expertise can solve situations, like a system breakdown, improving the responsiveness of the team (Kimble. C 2010). This in fact reduces the operational expenses which can therefore be spent on more crucial situations.
Accurate evaluation of team efficiency
According to the Interdependent Theory (Alsharo, M, Gregg, D & Ramirez, R 2017), virtual teams provide more accurate and expressive ideas regardless of the constraints by managerial roles. This contributes to the unbiased judgement of team performance as one’s ability and benevolence is assessed in contrast to the traditional structure.
Knowledge sharing and team effectiveness
Additionally, one of the benefits of virtual teamwork is the integration of knowledge distributed among the team members, facilitating synergies and providing a strong sense of trustworthiness. According to the Knowledge Based Theory of the Firm and the results of the researched structural model (Alsharo, M, Gregg, D & Ramirez, R 2017) , there is an underlying relationship between knowledge sharing and team effectiveness on both technological and social levels.
Virtual teamwork being a recent phenomenon, case studies and researches provide several risks of undergoing a virtual approach leading to being less favourable regardless of the existing diversity.
Even though technology has made its progress throughout the years, yet online communication hasn’t been the most effective way of connecting minds. In most of the case studies mentioned in Kimble. C (2010), technological issues impose a serious barrier in utilisation of expert time. Most of the issues concern incompatible networks in remote areas, unreliable systems; which results in delay of response time in certain times of the day if global virtual team is considered. Therefore, until this date, face-to-face meeting are held in order to handle delicate situations and take appropriate organisational decisions.
According to Gibson and Gibbs (2006, p.452-453), bringing experts “together virtually provides no guarantee that they will be able to work effectively and innovate” and therefore virtual team goes through several interpersonal obstacle. High performance being one of the objectives of a virtual team, contrariwise, this neglects the wellbeing of the employees which compromises productivity and performance.
In order to provide a deeper insight, the JDR Model yields a perspective focused on employee and their psychological wellbeing in workplace. According to the model, employees are to experience greater level of stress with the occurrence of imbalance between job demand and resources. As a result, high absenteeism in team contribution is observed. Job demands acts as emotional stressors for employees which include uncomfortable work environment, complexity in tasks etc. Therefore negligence of these demands lead to dysfunctional cognitive behaviour (Adamovic, M 2018). Hence, applying the JDR model becomes salient and will be elaborated later in the essay.
As virtual teamwork encourages more online interactions, it is not effective for sharing emotions which is essential for building trust. According to the research model of Alsharo, M. (2017), trust is linked directly to reduction of complexity and risk, thus creating a more collaborative environment in an organisation. However, this is compromised in a virtual workforce due to lack of physical interactions.
Cultural difference likewise impose limitations, for example- employees might be misunderstood and therefore suffer from social exclusion. Additionally employees are categorized according to their beliefs, nationality, religion etc. instead of weighing them based on their skills and contribution to the organisation. This disintegrates the wellbeing of employees and reduces sharing of task-based knowledge and coherence across the team.
Role of managers to bridge the virtual and real worlds of teamwork for the betterment of organisations and employees
Organisational managers are obligated to prioritise the wellbeing of employees in order to fulfil organisation’s goal and create a healthy workplace environment for employees to demonstrate their capacity to be productive.
As mentioned earlier, JDR model can be used by managers to address the potential stressors. By providing tasks according to employee’s strength to avoid complexity, clarifying the common goal etc. managers can take these opportunities to maximise the team effectiveness. Self-managing characteristics of a team should be empowered by managers by letting employees set their own goal and resolve their problems.
The concept of social presence should be enhanced, providing a degree of awareness of other people in interactions and interpersonal relationships e.g. in team meetings where everyone should be able to communicate without hesitation, providing constructive criticism of workers and regional monitoring of employees to avoid disruptions.
Managers should implement HRM tools in order to focus on employee wellbeing as it is directly linked to the proficiency of team performance globally. Employee focused HRM tools include, international-oriented training, providing opportunities for career development, flexible work practices, recognition of work, fair play procedures etc. (Adamovic, M 2018). Managers should be culturally-intelligent, have culture awareness training sessions in order to eradicate the existing boundaries present between team members. Lastly, right technology has to be provided by the HRM to link the cultural diversity and geographic dispersion within members.
For a virtual teamwork to work effectively, the limitations and the benefits of this methodology both have to be considered in order to enhance the cohesiveness of the team through effective managerial approaches. This essay uses frameworks and JDR model to analyse virtual teams, revealing a range of factors that affect the employees work satisfaction. These models and theories are also associated with the approaches that has to be taken by managers to adhere the team which will in turn affect the organisation positively. A clear link with the formation of trust and disruptive behaviour is established though research, indicating collaboration mediates team effectiveness in virtual workspace.