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Managing Virtual Teams

Presented at the fifth Asia-Pacific Industrial Engineering and Management Systems conference, this paper by Mojtaba Tabari and Amin Kaboli examines the management of virtual teams through communication strategies, project management, and other social/human processes. The paper details challenges with virtual team management and leadership, including:

  • Difficulty managing what can’t be seen
  • Learning of “whole” technology
  • Direct interaction with virtual team members
  • Complexity of technology used by virtual teams is exaggerated

The paper goes on, explaining how trust and communication play a vital role in the success of a virtual team: Charles Hendy believes that truthfulness is the most important factor in a virtual work setting. The more you move from old centralized organizations to virtual decentralized ones, the less you will have controlling power and management coordination because employees do their activities without being seen during the day by their colleagues and managers. So obviously, it will influence the employer/employee relation. On the other hand it is not possible to establish loyalty and commitment in the staff easily. Experienced people can leave an organization easily to join another one; hence, there will be more competition to achieve these resources than ever before. The most challenging elements are trust and communication when dealing with a virtual team, clearly, but the rewards of developing a group of dedicated, intelligent people is worth the risk. As the paper explains, strong management can negate some of the risks while optimizing some of the benefits, allowing for a successful virtual team which can perhaps accomplish more than a traditional team.

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