The professional world uses teams in almost all aspects of their businesses. We have found that productivity and profit generally rises with the use of effective teams. But along with the use of effective teams, technology has also played a major role in the rising of productivity and profit. The world has now entered the year 2007 and with that has come many advances in technology. By using technology we are now able to create virtual teams, basically team members that can be scattered throughout the United States or the world and still work towards a common goal task. It is necessary to point out that communication is essential in any team environment and with these team members have such distance between them, virtual communication becomes necessary. While virtual team communication is becoming a necessary evil in the workplace, especially in Global business, it seems to have many more potential barriers than traditional face to face communication between teams. Potential barriers such as availability issues, technology issues, and misinterpretation of communication will be discussed in this paper.
Availability of team members is huge in completing a team assignment. As a team you, you must be able to collaborate. In a situation where your team members are spread miles and time zones apart, you will have scheduling conflicts. Time zones can also contribute to team members not being able to fully contribute to the assigned task. An example would be that a team consisting of four individuals is asked to write report at 8:00am CST and turn it in by 5:00pm CST. Most likely the team on EST time will have already done the bulk of the work before the team on PST even knows they are supposed to be writing it. In a traditional work setting, the team would an ample opportunity to meet together throughout the day, since they are all working in the same location with generally the same work hours. When you separate the team members with miles and time zones, each person must make adjustments to their schedule on a daily basis in order to meet, contribute, and collaborate with the entire team.
Technology is the mighty issue that brought these teams together, but it can also be the reason why they could be separated. Internet connections can falter, power can go out, software can be outdated, and services that provide internet meetings and conference calls can experience problems. Each time one of these things occurs, the virtual team falls behind in reaching their goal.
Misinterpretation happens in all team settings, but in with virtual communication is can become a much bigger problem. In a virtual world, you are not using face to face, vocal communication. Instead you are typing out your ideas, suggestions, and instructions to fellow team members. Written communication is often misinterpreted either due to a member not fully reading the document or reading too much into what someone is trying to say. The amount of time between responses also contributes to misinterpretation. In a traditional setting you would clear up the misunderstanding within minutes. However in a virtual setting each member is forced to wait on the availability of the other.
In order for virtual teams to effectively communicate, each member must be fully aware of the potential barriers and take steps to overcome these barriers. Our world is advancing on a daily basis and we must learn to adapt to it. In the 1800’s a business owner wouldn’t have dreamed of having two locations placed hundreds of miles apart. Now, with technology we can do that. However, we must always be aware of the barriers and conflicts that can come with this technology.
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