Thursday, May 01, 2008

Working in virtual teams

I've been busy writing a Dutch article for Leren in Organisaties, with less time to write for my blog(s). So I suddenly thought I could share a small part of the article, hitting two birds with one stone (or two flies in one hit as we say in the Netherlands). The article is about the use of web2.0 tools to support the work of international virtual teams for a thematic issue about globalization. Since there is not much room (15.000 characters) we have a relative narrow focus on small teams dealing with a clear, time-delinated project. Shawn Callahan, Mark Schenk and Nancy White have written a white paper in English with the title: Building a collaborative workplace. It was good timing for us, and we enjoyed reading it. They write about teams, networks and communities and hence have taken a much wider focus. It helped us to choose a focus.

Towards the end of our article, we try to illustrate the possible advantages of the ways of working of virtual teams (only in the best teams that is!) and suggest that 'normal' teams could learn from it too. The advantages are:

  1. Access to a broader mix of expertise.

  2. Stimulation of creative thinking.

  3. Equality in communication and collaboration.

  4. Collaboration outside the beaten tracks.

  5. Easy 'harvesting' of knowledge products.

  6. Working efficiently.
We do explain it further in the article. Did we overlook an important advantage? The paper is not as superoptimistic as this list might suggest- we do talk about problemteams too. By the way, we know that virtual teams are real teams. Virtual team is a funny name, as it sounds like a science fiction team. It seems to make sense to adopt this name for teams that are not co-located as it is a widely known term.


josien said...

distributed teams?
did you check ??
rich resource by the incredible nancy white

Joitske Hulsebosch said...

Hi thanks, though it talks about distributed community, the advantages seem pretty similar indeed! One additional one may be more reflection because writing forces you to slow down, but I wonder whether that holds in project teams working with tight deadlines.

Angelo Sasso said...

I would take a look at this post on this virtual team blog:

It may have some information that can help you with your writing! It talks about the benefits and detriments of virtual teams.

Joitske Hulsebosch said...

Hi Angelo, thanks for pointing us to this resource! An article I really liked by the way was from Lisa Kimball.