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A virtual team is more effective than a typical face-to-face conference for groups to collaborate since digitalization and technological advancements have made it possible to combine computing and communications equipment at a low cost. Businesses now need to be more swift and agile in order to adapt to the changing environment as a result of the increased competition on the global market. Because of the unique nature of labor, environments that demand coordination and cooperation across organizations have emerged. With generational differences employees are demanding personal flexibility to choose where, when, and how work is done as key to work-life balance. By 2009, 70% of the workforce will comprise workers who spend at least 10 hours a week away from their primary work site due to an increase in connectivity (Sanders 2002).
For example, is Text the best way to hold a virtual group meeting? What are the pros and cons of Text and chat rooms for conducting virtual team meetings? What are the upsides or downsides of creating a collaborative work space so members can work on the same documents simultaneously?
With web conferencing, group members can have a wide range of access to data conferencing tools which allows teams to collaborate and share information through voice and text interactivity simultaneously. Text messaging is not the best means for conducting virtual team meetings. Various forms of communication tools must be incorporated to facilitate communication. Text and chat rooms provide a means of relaying information and providing immediate feedback to users. The use of text in chat rooms can distort the nature and the context of the message. A collaborative workspace enhances the group's ability to collaborate and work effectively. The quality of teamwork may be compromised when team members do not share the same context by being connected to the same information and software (Axtell 2004).
The use of email furnishes a person with time to think as there is no built-in expectation for an immediate response. Email is often used as an escape from heavy workloads, gives individuals a false sense of accomplishment, and decreases the productivity of individuals. Telephone use is the easiest, less expensive, and available means of communication. Effective communication can be hindered in places where there is no network coverage (Axtell 2004). Texting is the quickest means of communication. It provides a quick response to feedback as messages are usually delivered first. With text messaging, it is hard to convey the tone of the message, and messages can easily be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Face-to-face communication is the most appropriate form of communication as it provides an avenue for immediate feedback. Face-to-face conversation enables individuals to express their feelings and opinions in a better way. Face-to-face communication is not possible for large organizations which are geographically dispersed due to distance (Sanders 2002).
Yes, process loss often occurs in virtual setups as a result of the challenge of communicating across space and time by the use of multiple communication devices. The inability to reach and respond to team members promptly compromises the team effectiveness. Unified communication systems can enable the team leader to know the location of a team member, their availability, and what devices they can be reached on. The challenges affecting the effectiveness of virtual teams can be grouped into three distinct categories: lack of contact with team members, constraints in technology, and lack of project visibility. Unified communication systems should ensure that team members are more accessible to one another and increase efficiency by decreasing process loss (Duarte, 2006).
If I was in charge of a similar group project, I would combine various conferencing tools to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the team members. Effective group work depends on the ability to harness the appropriate medium of communication to meet the needs of the fundamental communication task at hand. Unified communication systems will enhance the group members' sense of social presence by integrating all forms of communication tools into a web of connection. Unified communication systems enable team members to multitask between various tools of communication depending on the individual needs of the team members and the nature of the task. The five media capabilities which are important for an effective virtual team meeting include: symbol variety, parallelism, reprocessability, rehearsability, and immediacy of feedback (Duarte 2006).
Axtell, C. M., Fleck, S. J., & Turner, N. (2004). Virtual teams: Collaborating across distance. International review of industrial and organizational psychology, 19, 205-248.
Duarte, D. L., & Snyder, N. T. (2006). Mastering virtual teams: Strategies, tools, and techniques that succeed. John Wiley & Sons.
Sanders, D. (2002). Collaborating in virtual teams. Journal of Computing in Systems and Engineering, 3(2), 30-37.
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