Technology and globalization play an increasingly important role in the evolution of today’s business environment. Although office face-time played a critical role in corporate settings in the past, the once-rigid boundaries of geography, time and even organizations are now quickly vanishing as members of almost any workplace team are communicating and collaborating regardless of physical location (Duarte & Snyder, 2006). For example, teams that are geographically dispersed rely on technology-mediated communication to accomplish tasks and the degree of virtuality can vary from slight to extreme. Teams that conduct their work through the following three technological devices: (a) email, (b) text messages, and (c) teleconferences never meeting face-to-face, are considered more virtual than a team that meets monthly in person. Teams that span multiple time zones and continents are more virtual than one whose members are located within the same city (Gibson, et al., 2003). These new components in the virtual work environment add complexities that require the development of new managerial skills.
Virtual teams (VT) work across time, space and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technologies. VT are useful because they can be rapidly brought together to realize a business objective within limited time and resources. VT services are becoming more important today as a result of variety in their underlying business process models (Fong, 2005). Virtual enterprises (VE) share data, information as files, directories, internet bookmarks, databases and more sophisticated tools of knowledge management or a combination of all.
Organizations that do not utilize virtual team technology may effectively be fighting an uphill battle in global competition in a swiftly changing environment. Institutions will find success in today’s business environment by finding new ways of working across boundaries through systems, processes, technology, and people. VE make technology a valued partner by developing and distributing competitive solutions (Duarte & Snyder, 2006). People working on virtual teams need special skills which include: (a) comprehending human dynamic and performance without the benefit of normal social cues, (b) knowledge of how to manage across functional areas and national cultures, (c) skill in managing their careers and others without the advantage of face-to-face interaction, and (d) the ability to use leverage and electronic communication technology as their primary means of collaboration and communication.
The technology to enable VE is here. The acceptance of it depends on the willingness of the individuals and organizations to understand the concept and transition in this new approach to organizational management. Coordinating systems that address work practices, management oversight, organizational and cultural influences, are key components in building strategic alliances that will contribute to a company’s growth and success within the virtual organization environment.
Duarte, D., & Snyder, N. T. (2006). Mastering virtual teams (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Fong, M. (2005). E-Collaborations and virtual organizations. Hershey PA: IRM Press.
Gibson, C., Cohen, S., Alcordo, T., Athanassiou, N., Baba, M., Blackburn, R., . . . Tyran, C. (2003). Teams that work (1st ed.). (C. Gibson, & S. Cohen, Eds.) San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.