What are the unique challenges to managing a virtual team?

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Virtual teams represent the next stage in the evolution of corporate organisations. Globalisation, downsizing, more flexible working practices and rapid advances in information technology has allowed and accelerated the need for businesses to span geographical and organisational boundaries (Merrick, 1996). A study of the meaning and characteristics of virtual teams shows how they meet the needs and challenges of this new workplace. However, the emergence of virtual teams radically alters the way organisations work and communicate. Virtual team management faces several new and complex challenges in overcoming time, distance and cultural boundaries, in building trust, collaboration and team cohesion, in supporting and controlling team…show more content…
"The major disadvantages of virtual teams are the lack of interaction - with its associated verbal and nonverbal cues - and the synergies that often accompany face-to-face communication" (Cascio, 2000, p. 84). The absence of traditional communicative cues (i.e., facial expression, gesture, and vocal inflection) makes subtleties in communication more difficult to convey and understand. There is always subtle body language produced when communicating that may or may not be in accordance with the spoken language. The formation of the virtual team is often a beneficial time to have face-to-face interaction as it gives the team a chance to introduce themselves, get an idea of who they are working with, and the goals and tasks for the team can be established and clarified (Geber, 1995). However many factors can completely stop communication completely within the team. The cost of procuring and establishing media such as videoconferencing and networking facilities for all team members, or having the team physically meet in the same location, may be too great for some organisations, especially for those that are small in size or those that are widely dispersed geographically. Networking facilities may also not be available or incompatible with team members ' software, equipment and security. Another challenge to the team is technophobia or the abilities of members to work with electronic communication media (Townsend & DeMarie, 1998). "One source of
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