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What are the cultural challenges faced by virtual teams?

Carrie Scott's Profile

Answers

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Unless video conferencing (and even then) is an active part of communication, one misses the unique one-to-one/one-to-many/many-to-many relationships that are built on multiple levels when personal face-to-face interaction occurs.

Time zone differences

Levels of written correspondence loosing touch with the reader (i.e., you don't communicate well; they don't receive the communication).

BTW, I have had extremely successful results while working 100% virtually (even before video was affordable and easily accessible).

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

Remote Working Arrangements / Virtual Teams historically have two drawbacks–

Issue 1 – Employee Exclusion - “Employees in virtual environments may develop perceptions of exclusion or isolation due to their need to rely on technology to communicate with others; common forms of communication technology (e.g., email) do not provide a high level of information richness and can inhibit social exchange (Marshall, Michaels, & Mulki, 2007).” (Cornell University study Remote Work: An Examination of Current Trends and Emerging Issues Spring 2011)

Issue 2 – Remote Responsiveness - “Some remote employees struggle when attempting to coordinate their work with their managers and other employees or when attempting to receive timely feedback.” (Cornell University study Remote Work: An Examination of Current Trends and Emerging Issues Spring 2011)

Just consider these issues in your approach and you will be fine. The business approach works well with proper planning.

Topic Expert
Joan Varrone
Title: CFO
Company: Cloud Cruiser
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, Cloud Cruiser) |

I would agree with the comments above and also add that you lose the management by walking around benefits. In the physical setting I was often pulled into conversations to help solve a problem because I was right down the hall and it made problem solving more effective and efficient.

However, I have worked in virtual environments and have had success with them as well (even before video conferencing) which resulted from constant communication.

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

If you're managing virtual teams across borders, in addition to the responses above, setting expectations of the role and "project managing" the work are key. This may take a "few" iterations until you are on the "same page" . (India, China, Mexico and Eastern Europe).

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