Teamwork is crucial in organizations for building strong employee relationships and performance. Teamwork is the reevaluation, negotiation, and adjustment of players who are mutually accountable for achieving common goals by taking cues from team members through constant communication. With increasing globalization, international and large organizations with geographically dispersed team members, web communication and technology developed tools for virtual team management. Virtual teams obliterate space, time and geographic distance barriers to enable employees to set goals, delegate tasks properly, and organize online meetings regularly at a low cost. Virtual teams also enable organizations to access high-talent workers, enhancing members’ performance and satisfaction. On the downside, virtual teams may result in mistrust, conflicts, poor leadership, incompetency, and ambiguity. Globalization has evolved virtual teaming due to its positive financial, performance, and member satisfaction benefits; nonetheless, poor team leadership is liable to poor interpersonal relationships and lack of credibility.
Virtual teams enable organizations to leverage global talent. Experts, specialists, and high-talent workers from around the world can be brought together to work on a specific project or fill organizational gaps. Additionally, worker benefits associated with virtual teams attract high-quality workers. The high reach of virtual teams bridges labor deficits, particularly in outlandish professions, and enhances organizational diversity (Dung, 2020). Increased knowledge sharing and communication among a diverse workforce through virtual teams encourages higher innovation (McShane and Glinow, 2017). Digital tools in virtual teams allow standardized procedures and mechanization of operations that assure all team members maintain quality. Access to quality and diverse labor through virtual teams strengthens organizations’ human capital and encourages innovation.
Organizations with geographically separated staff utilize virtual teams due to their affordability. Team members don’t have to incur transport to move to a central meeting place in virtual teams. Utilizing virtual teams, organizations can operate without or with fewer base operations and cut huge expenses on renting office spaces and utility bills such as electricity. Moreover, companies can outsource their labor operations to low-cost regions. Cost-effective organizations leverage virtual teams to reduce startup, production, and operation costs (Dung, 2020). Reduced cost of production and access to a large labor pool enhance organizations’ competitiveness and productivity.
Virtual teams enhance productivity by allowing regular coordination and communication of workers. Employees in virtual teams are more motivated and satisfied due to the bridged gap caused by social life and the freedom they enjoy. There are a better work-life balance in-office teams than in other models, such as in-office teams (Savu, 2019). Therefore, members of virtual teams have a higher focus on their jobs, contributing to the organization. Regular meetings build more collaborative relationships through the organization, enabling workers to address complex challenges and mitigate tension and conflict (McShane and Glinow, 2017). Due to the high productivity, innovation, and cost-efficiency, organizations that adopt virtual team management are very competitive. Productivity and productivity are key success factors in organizations established by virtual teams.
Teams coordinated virtually are technologically versatile and hence efficient. Regular interaction with technology by virtual teams gives them digital exposure that allows them to simplify many job functions and find a quick solution to tedious, repetitive tasks. Digital tools, applications, and systems allow work automation and provide solutions to challenging tasks. Since all work is assigned, coordinated, executed, and evaluated using digital tools, workers develop technology literacy and forge a technologically oriented organizational culture. Virtual teams improve technology awareness in organizations, increasing productivity and work automation and molding organizational culture.
There is high flexibility in virtual teams regarding time and team management. Team members can schedule their work according to convenience, workload, and project priority, increasing productivity. Companies can also undertake 24 hours operations with different virtual teams operating in shifts which enhances the scale of operation and productivity. Organizations can also assemble temporary teams using virtual teams to perform specific projects.
However, despite the widespread prevalence and benefits of virtual teams have some challenges for the members and organizations. Virtual teams are operated with maximum freedom of team members, minimal or no one-on-one interactions, and worker monitoring that causes various challenges. Poor interpersonal relationships, conflicts, and mistrust likely complicate performance and success in virtual teams. Teamwork is essential in teamwork, as described in 1 Corinthians 13, “The body is not supported by one person, but by all of us, We are one, we are strongest working together in unity” (Holy Bible, n.d). Therefore, virtual teams may affect interpersonal relationships, trust, and competency despite the benefits.
Due to limited physical contact in virtual teams, members may lack trust in each other or the organization. Interacting and communicating via digital communication tools is obscure and does not allow quality interactions crucial for building trust. Moreover, virtual teams open room for dishonesty that affects interpersonal relationships. An isolated working environment in virtual teams eliminates the sense of collaborative efforts that require trust. Conversations to build trust are not only about words but also experiences and understanding, which are restricted in virtual teams (Savu, 2019). Interpersonal challenges such as poor communication, and difficulty in expressing thoughts and feelings are likely in virtual teams hence affecting relationships. Teamwork requires defined contribution of each team members values and outputs which may be unclear in digitally coordinated teams (McShane and Glinow, 2017). Trust is essential in teamwork to prevent interpersonal clashes and team conflict.
Different communication styles, values, and lack of trust are likely to cause conflicts in teamwork. In default of defined expectations on the level of communication and organization values, diversity in virtual teams is likely to cause dis-coordination and conflict. Virtual communication is often impersonal, hence conditioning for misunderstanding, misinterpretation and back and forth exchanges that can rapidly impact teamwork efficacy (Savu, 2019). Diversity in virtual teams can be both constructive and destructive due to the inability of digital interactions to curb the differences between members.
Virtual teams create a vacuum for incompetency and poor leadership due to work ethic differences, distractions, and poor team control. According to Dung (2020), a diverse workforce coordinated through digital communication have varying work ethics that may collide and affect productivity. For instance, some workers lacking respect and teamwork ethics may affect relationships in the team and the overall performance. Since members work in their home environment, they are susceptible to distractions that undermine their credibility. Team leaders have restrained control of individual members in teamwork since team members only come together when conducting meetings related to the job.
Poor communication in virtual teams risks unclarified roles and processes among workers. Team members may not understand their roles, organizational cultures, values, performance criteria, and goals, causing ambiguity (Savu, 2019). Face-to-face relationships are crucial to information sharing due to the freedom to consult, and ambiguity in virtual communication leads to confusion. In teamwork, ambiguity by some members derails the performance of the whole team, productivity, and timeline.
To conclude, virtual teams have become prevalent in the digital world due to the trend in international organizations and remote working cultures. Virtual teams benefit organizations with high performance, cost-efficiency, innovation, diversity, global talent, and a technology-accomplished workforce. Team members enjoy a healthy work-life balance and flexibility. Even so, virtual teams have disadvantages of lack of trust, conflicts among members, incompetency, and poor leadership. Virtual team leaders should have strong interpersonal, technical, and team-building skills to integrate members towards a common goal.
Dung, D. T. H. (2020). The advantages and disadvantages of virtual learning. IOSR Journal of Research & Method in Education, 10(3), 45-48.
Holy Bible. (n.d). American Standard Version: Containing the Old and New Testament. Bible Domain Publishing.
McShane, S., & Glinow, M. A. V. (2017). Organizational behavior. McGraw-Hill Education.
Savu, I. (2019). Amplifying performance in virtual teams by optimizing communication strategies. Res. & Sci. Today, 17, 112.