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Virtual Success

How To Build High Performing

Virtual Teams


By. S.L. Mackey


Introduction


Organizations increasingly depend on virtual teams, where interaction and collaboration take place among geographically dispersed, and often culturally diverse, individuals. Often these teams are globally distributed and face challenges that traditional teams do not. Team members often find the experience frustrating, even when their work is supported from a corporate standpoint. Often, even when equipped with cutting edge technology (and often they are not), teams find it difficult to work across boundaries and borders when they are not prepared for the challenges raised by working across time zones and national borders. Virtual teams are frequently temporary in nature, have not worked together in the past and do not know one another. In addition, they are typically culturally diverse, and are reliant on various types of technological communication tools that provide the capability to not only span distance, but also time through asynchronous interactions.


Despite all the challenges, the potential payoff to organizations from virtual teams is significant. Organizations enhance their flexibility as teams with the proper expertise can be formed quickly without regard to any member’s physical location. Companies can respond more quickly to changes in their environment and reduce the associated costs. Benefits and opportunities expand exponentially when firms need to address issues in the global marketplace associated to diverse local cultures, such as the design and introduction of new products or services for specific national markets, since they are able to rapidly integrate the knowledge and perspectives of locally based team members.

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