Discussion: Synchronous Meetings
Team leaders may decide to initiate or supplement a team’s virtual activity with a face‐to‐face meeting so that the seeds of trust can be planted and team members feel as if they know one another on a more personal basis. Face‐ to-face meetings indeed appear to contribute to successful global virtual teams. An in‐depth study of three global virtual teams found that the two effective teams created a rhythm organized around regularly scheduled face‐to‐face meetings coupled with virtual meetings as needed. Before each face‐to‐face meeting, there was a flurry of com- munication and activity as team members prepared for the meeting. After the meeting, there were many follow‐up messages and tasks. The ineffective team did not demonstrate a similar pattern.33 Because not all teams can meet face‐to‐face, well‐managed synchronous meetings using video teleconferencing or in a virtual world can activate the rhythm and accelerate the workflow.
FIGURE 4.7 Comparison of challenges facing virtual teams and traditional teams.
Challenges Virtual Teams (VT) Traditional Teams
Communication • Difficulties in terms of scheduling meetings and interactions • Increased inefficiencies when passing work between time
zones • Altered communication dynamics such as facial expressions,
vocal inflections, verbal cues, and gestures
• Collocated in same time zone. Scheduling is less difficult
• Use of richer communication media, including face‐to‐face discussions
Technology • Need for proficiency across wide range of technologies • Automatic creation of electronic repository to build
organizational memory • Need for ability to align group structure and technology
with the task environment
• Support for face-to-face interaction without replacing it
• Electronic communication skills not needed by team members
• Task technology fit less critical
Team Diversity • Harder to establish a group identity • Require better communication skills • More difficult to build trust, norms, and shared meanings
about roles because team members have fewer cues about their teammates’ performance
• More likely to have different perceptions about time and deadlines
• Group identity easier to create • Easier communication among
33 M. L. Maznevski and K. Chudoba, “Bridging Space Over Time: Global Virtual Team Dynamics and Effectiveness,” Organization Science 11, no. 5 (2000), 373–92.
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93Where Work Is Done and Who Does It: Mobile and Virtual Work Arrangements
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