How To Work Effectively In Virtual Teams

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Virtual teams are becoming more and more prevalent in the global business community. But they come with some unique challenges, for which business students often are not sufficiently prepared, experts say. To address this problem, an article in the latest issue of Small Group Research presents an experiential activity for undergrads in which students from around the world work together in a virtual team to bring these issues to light:

The goal of this VT [virtual team] experiential activity is to demonstrate to students how working in VTs can (a) be similar to working in FtF [face-to-face] teams, (b) have several advantages over FtF teams, and yet (c) present some unique challenges. Based on the results of student surveys completed prior to working on this activity, many of our students are uninformed about these issues given their lack of experience working in VTs. In fact, most students report that using technology to communicate is easy and that in the future, there will be little need for FtF communication. Students are also quick to point out that technology allows individuals to work on projects at times that are most convenient to their specific schedules and to seek assistance in real time rather than SGR_72ppiRGB_150pixwwaiting for a predetermined meeting time. Students also report that they foresee few limitations to working in virtual teams. While for some students these sentiments remain true even after participating in the VT activity, for others their perceptions are changed significantly after having the opportunity to work with geographically dispersed team members.

Continue reading the article, “Virtual Team Effectiveness: An Experiential Activity,” published by Lucy L. Gilson of the University of Connecticut, M. Travis Maynard of Colorado State University, and Erich B. Bergiel of the University of West Georgia in the Small Group Research August 2013 issue.

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