Purpose – The paper seeks to discuss virtual working, technology utilisation and how technology can be used to enhance human interaction rather than replace it. It is often the fabric of virtual human relationships that remains sadly neglected. This viewpoint paper aims to stimulate a more comprehensive debate about how to work effectively with and through others in our virtual world. Design/methodology/approach – Working closely with global corporations, the author studied both permanent and project‐based virtual teams. Through observation and diagnostics, a comparison of the effectiveness of these teams was made against that of traditional co‐located teams. Findings – Many businesses attempt to treat virtual working in the same way as co‐located working. The human impact and implications of virtual working are not fully understood or dealt with. The cultural retention of practices and policies that are relevant to co‐located traditional work but often counter‐productive for virtual working can result in tensions, conflicts and the ultimate disengagement of the workforce. Practical implications – This paper offers a sample of the pragmatic tips and approaches the author's organizations brings to its clients. The most practical outcome of reading this paper is the recognition that virtual working has some subtle and key differences that need to be understood and managed by all those involved. Originality/value – This paper is intended to be thought‐provoking for executive leaders, leaders, human resource professionals, change management agents and – most importantly – members of virtual teams.
Industrial and Commercial Training – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 18, 2008
Keywords: Virtual work; Team working; Team management; Conferencing