Ongoing advancements in technology provide the opportunity to build and to improve successful virtual teams. Organizational leaders are facing a dynamic and competitive environment that requires levels of flexibility and fast responses to the global marketplace. The virtual team structure is built on communication that is impacted by the ability of the team members to engage with integrated collaborative technology. Advances in technology enable team members of virtual teams to communicate crucial information and to be perceived as inclusive. Communication technologies have characteristics and capabilities that allow for different levels of communication richness, which refers to the quantity and quality of the shared information provided by the technology. There are two broad categories of collaboration technology: communication-focused technology and coordination-focused technology. Communication-focused technologies are considered key contributors to building trust in virtual teams. Coordination-focused technology refers to a complementary set of tools that can be leveraged to enhance trust and coordination among team members. Advances in technology that are discussed: real-time communications protocols enhances video calls through any type of device including wearable technology; Internet of Things making it easier and more natural for people to interact with the objects to stay connected; higher video resolution continues to improve in terms of price, quality, and performance, which will increase the number and type of devices for communication.
Walsh, T. (2019), "Virtual Team Success with the Power of Technology Advancements", Gordon, P.A. and Overbey, J.A. (Ed.) Advances in the Technology of Managing People: Contemporary Issues in Business (The Changing Context of Managing People), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 99-107. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78973-073-920191009Download as .RIS
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Recent advances in telecommunications and information technology, coupled with the globalization of work, have led to the growing popularity of virtual teams that are increasing the opportunities for organizations to meet their strategic goals. Virtual teams have changed the workplace and provided organizations with unprecedented levels of flexibility and fast responsiveness to the global marketplace (Lippert & Dulewicz, 2018). Virtual teams are groups of geographically and organizationally dispersed coworkers that work together using a combination of telecommunications and information technologies to accomplish organizational tasks (Gupta & Pathak, 2018; Powell, Piccoli, & Ives, 2004). Global environment creates access to resources with more diverse skills that may not be available in one location (Ferrell & Kline, 2018). Virtual teams are becoming a dominant response of organizations to meet their need for high quality, low cost, and rapid solutions (Furst, Reeves, Rosen, & Blackburn, 2004; Lister & Harnish, 2017).
Managers are required to establish strategies and leverage technology that supports trust, collaboration, and effective communication in virtual teams (Chang, Chuang, & Chao, 2011; Desper, 2013). Virtual teams provide advantages to organizations by increased knowledge sharing, employee job satisfaction and commitment, and improved organizational performance (Furst et al., 2004; Pauleen, 2003). The functionality of virtual teams is highly affected by the mediation of communication and collaboration technologies (Bordia, 2017).
Successful virtual team leaders are technologically adept in following and understanding the range and scope of advanced technology introduced into the market to meet the needs of their team (Hill, 2005; Lippert & Dulewicz, 2018). Leaders in the virtual team environment have to be willing to review and test new technologies that can create a culture which is designed to be secure, honest, confidential, and nonjudgmental, that supports an organizational environment, where team members can share their skills and weaknesses without the fear of reproach (Lippert & Dulewicz, 2018; Mitchell & Lumsden, 2017).
Building a trusting relationship is a critical success factor in building a successful virtual team (Monalisa et al., 2008; Webster & Staples, 2006; Zuofa & Ochieng, 2017). Trust builds more slowly in virtual teams than face-to-face teams because asynchronous communication precludes social information sharing (Schulze & Krumm, 2017; Wilson, Straus, & McEvily, 2006). Virtual team leaders who facilitate knowledge-sharing are increasing the number of interaction opportunities where social information is shared. By increasing the communication frequency, team members have more occasions to be effective in cooperation and collaboration. The importance of having a supportive culture supports that trust in the virtual team is associated with team cooperation (Cheng, Yin, Azadegan, & Kolfschoten, 2016; Chumg, Cooke, & Seaton, 2015; Lippert & Dulewicz, 2018).
Organizational leaders are facing a dynamic and competitive environment that necessitates flexibility and fast responses to the global marketplace. Collaboration requires team members of virtual teams to work together in a coordinated fashion, toward a common goal (Driskell, Salas, & Driskell, 2018; Patel, Pettitt, & Wilson, 2012). Collaboration is a planned process that creates value beyond communication and depends on the trust of the team members (Kolfschoten & Brazier, 2013; Vangen & Huxham, 2003). The desire to solve problems, create solutions, and discover new methods of completing work is a driving force for teams to collaborate (Aritz, Walker, & Cardon, 2018; Gressgård, 2011). The virtual team structure is built on communication that is impacted by the ability of the team members to successfully engage with integrated collaborative technologies (Driskell et al., 2018). Virtual team leaders and team members collaborate and integrate advanced technology to meet deliverables (Bordia, 2017; Brown, Dennis, & Venkatesh, 2010).
Communication is at the core of any virtual team process (Powell et al., 2004). Organizations are increasingly using virtual teams to accomplish a variety of tasks in the organization, and virtual teams may struggle more than face-to-face teams with forming cohesive bonds and sharing information openly (Medina & Srivastava, 2016). As a result, team interaction and the relationship between teamwork and outcomes are evolving for virtual teams (Kirkman, Rosen, Tesluk, & Gibson, 2004). Teamwork refers to the enactment of teamwork processes that support effective team performance (De Bruyn, 2017; Salas, Rosen, Burke, & Goodwin, 2009).
The use of advances in communications tools is integral to enable virtual teams to communicate as invisible, seamless, and intuitive as possible to support teamwork (Schulze & Krumm, 2017). Traditional team research emphasizes that successful co-located teams can communicate effectively and share information crucial to project completion promptly (Webster & Staples, 2006). The virtual environment has challenges to effective communication because of time delays in receiving feedback, lack of a common frame of reference for all team members, and differences in understanding of the written text (Mukherjee & Natrajan, 2017).
Advances in technology enable team members of virtual teams to communicate crucial information and be perceived as inclusive (Hu, 2015; Laitinen & Valo, 2018). By sharing information in a manner that is understood by everybody, inclusive communication promotes teamwork by increasing social connection (Han, Chae, Macko, Park, & Beyerlein, 2017; Hartley Kean, 2016). Different communication technologies have characteristics and capabilities that allow for levels of communication richness, which refers to the quantity and quality of the shared information provided by the technology (Bull Schaefer & Erskine, 2012; SangWoo, 2017).
Technologies that allow for detailed, comprehensive, effective information to be transferred immediately or synchronously (e.g., in-person, video conferencing, and phone call) are richer (see Fig. 1) than those that transfer fewer information cues asynchronously (e.g., email). Email has become a standard mode of official communication for organizations. A single asynchronous email is an effective method to provide information to many interested parties at the same time. Instant messaging (e.g., texting) is a synchronous form of text-based communication that is less formal than an email. Texting can be via websites and instant-messaging applications that provide virtual team whose team members are globally located to collaborative on a project in real-time. Phone conferences have two main advantages over text-based communication, that is, timely interaction and hearing the person’s tone and reactions.
In-person meetings are considered the richest method that provides many verbal and nonverbal information cues at the same time (Bull Schaefer & Erskine, 2012). Video conferencing is one of the fastest growing business services and is to grow by a factor of three between 2016 and 2021 (Cisco, 2017). Devices and connections are growing faster than both the population and Internet users. This trend is accelerating the increase in the average number of devices and connections per household and internet user. Each year, various new devices in different form factors, with increased capabilities and intelligence, are introduced and adopted in the market (Cisco, 2017).
Collaboration technology, which supports communication among participants, has been referred to by many terms: group decision support systems, group support systems, electronic meeting systems, and groupware (Brown et al., 2010; Kapogiannis & Sherratt, 2018). Integrated collaborative technologies are tools that assist virtual teams to work collectively toward solving problems without considering geographical distance (Lepsinger & DeRosa, 2010; Pane, Siregar, & Sriyanto, 2017). There are two broad categories of collaboration technology: communication-focused technology and coordination-focused technology.
Communication-focused technologies are considered key contributors to building trust in virtual teams (Parker, 2017). Communication-focused technologies have a broad range of tools that support real-time interaction (e.g., video conferencing) to delayed interaction (e.g., email and instant messaging). As more organizations are creating virtual teams, organization are using more than one communication tools of collaboration technologies to support virtual teams (Bowen & Pennaforte, 2017; Hu, 2015).
Video conferencing started with room-based devices and has progressively become available to all types of handheld devices. Higher video resolution continues to improve regarding price, quality, and performance that has increased the number and type of devices that support video (e.g., smartphones and wearables). This increase of accessibility has allowed virtual teams to use video conferencing (see Table 1) as a means of collaboration, regardless of where they are physically located from offices, hotel rooms, or on the beach.
Multicore chips have provided smartphones the ability to perform multiple functions, including speech recognition, voice translation, and improved video search to improve communication. Real-time communications protocols enhance video calls through multiple types of device (e.g., Amazon MayDay, Citibank video-chat function, and Apple Spin). These protocols have made it simple to make video calls through a web browser or smartphone.
The Internet of Things is the concept of everyday objects (e.g., industrial machines and household appliances) having computing devices that are interconnected via the internet enabling them to send and receive data (Rainer & Prince, 2016). By 2020, the number of physical objects connected to the internet will grow to 50 billion, and the long-term economic opportunity is estimated to be up 15 trillion dollars (Evans & Annunziata, 2013). The Internet of Things will make it easier and more natural for people to interact with the objects to stay connected, and as a result of the increased connectivity, teams will collaborate differently. Constant connectivity means an increase of availability of information from smart homes, wearable technologies, connected vehicles, and connected appliances with remote-monitoring capabilities (Kang, Moon, & Park, 2017). The overall wearables market is expected to reach 222.3 million dollars in 2021 with a compound annual growth rate of 18.4% (Llamas, 2018). These devices will increasingly integrate video. Google Glass allows users to broadcast what they are seeing. Hospital were early adopters to support virtual teams of doctors to collaborate immediately in diagnosing patients (Dujay, 2018).
Coordination-focused technology refers to a complementary set of tools that can be leveraged to enhance trust and coordination among team members (Ferrell & Kline, 2018).
The tools range from file sharing tools, scheduling tools, co-creation tools, and desktop virtualization.
File-sharing tools are critical for knowledge management in virtual teams. Many organizations use email to share sensitive information that is a security concern. File-sharing tools (e.g., Dropbox and FileZilla) provide secure transmission portal for sensitive information. Plus, provides the ability to store and have easy access to large files (e.g., high-resolution images and video files).
Scheduling tools (e.g., Doodle, iCalendar, and Skype using Google Calendar) allow team members to provide their availability and preference for planning meetings. The scheduling tool can be accessed by any type of device (e.g., personal computer, tablets, and smartphones) to coordinate meetings, book meeting rooms, and schedule video conferencing.
Co-creation tools (e.g., Google Drive, Slack, Join.me, and Dropbox) provide document management capabilities to keep store documents and track version of documents. Co-creation tools (e.g., Good Docs and Google Slides) coordinate team members to edit simultaneously the same file (e.g., document and spreadsheet). Slack is a team messaging tool that brings all types of communication together seamlessly, and integrates with all social media platforms and sharing tools. Team conversations can be organized into open or private channels by projects. Join.me allows up to 10 individuals to view your screen at the same time, fostering collaboration for idea generation, sales demos, and presentations. Dropbox is a file storage service that has the feature of storing large files (e.g., images and videos) to cloud storage that is accessible to all synced devices.
Desktop virtualization (e.g., Citrix and VMWare) is a digital workspace technology that is accessible to the virtual team, regardless of their physical location. Team members access the files and programs using any device that is supported by cloud computing. Advances in data storage technology will spur the continued growth of cloud computing and Video Conferencing as a Service (VCaaS). VCaaS is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 34% through 2021 in large part because cloud computing is lowering the financial risk to users by eliminating the need for businesses to own data storage hardware (Cisco, 2017).
Broadband and mobile will get exponentially faster. Google and a handful of municipalities around the world have fixed Internet speeds of up to 1 GB, and Samsung has implemented a 5G network that boosts mobile speeds 100-fold. Owing to the increase in speed and bandwidth, more video applications are emerging that are supporting video collaboration to be conducted anywhere, anytime via mobile and wearable devices.
Regardless of the size of the organization, virtual teams establish a network of collaborator that position an organization to have faster responses to a dynamic and competitive global environment. The shift from traditional competitive business environment toward a synergistic collaborative environment is driving the need to increase the advancement in collaborative technology that focuses on virtual teamwork. A key factor to effective collaboration is to match the need to the technology that offers the best for communication and coordination. Communication richness focuses on the level of information riches that is provided by each type of collaborative technology. Therefore, as communication technologies become easier to use, the virtual interface will provide a more realistic presence to promote trust and collaboration for successful virtual teams.
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- Chapter 1 Technology and Globalization: The Evolution of Human Interactions, Values, and Management Practices
- Chapter 2 Advances in Information Technology Integrated with Strategic Direction
- Chapter 3 Advancing Technologies in Human Resource Development (HRD)
- Chapter 4 Employee Engagement in 3D Virtual Learning Environments: A Digitized HRD Framework Model for Leadership and Learning
- Chapter 5 Advanced Information Technology: Improve Workplace Productivity with Balanced Scorecard Actions
- Chapter 6 Managing Emerging Technology and Organizations with Agility
- Chapter 7 The Long Tail of Generation Z and the Future of a Freelance Economy
- Chapter 8 E-Mentoring 2.0: Changing the Workplace Through Technology
- Chapter 9 Virtual Team Success with the Power of Technology Advancements
- Chapter 10 Managing Technology Implementation Change in a Caribbean Organization
- Chapter 11 Technological Work Environments: Issues in the Government Sector
- Chapter 12 Issues and Advantages of Advanced Analytics, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace
- Chapter 13 Ambient Intelligence Changes the Office Environment
- Chapter 14 Disruptive Innovations: Blockchain and Spinoffs
- Chapter 15 Quantum Leadership: Transmuting Technology
- Chapter 16 The Impact of Quantum Teleportation on Business Ethics