CHALLENGES OF GEOGRAPHICALLY DISTRIBUTED TEAMS
The more virtual your teamwork is, the more demanding it becomes. Collaboration across locations, time zones and cultural boundaries increases the demands on organization and management. Mobility and temporary project work may complicate employees' own work management and leisure time arrangements. Mediated communication offers opportunities for virtual collaboration. Yet team members also need to be aware of the pros and cons of various communication tools. 1
CHALLENGE #1 – LOCATION
If team members work in several towns or countries, maintaining a clear and consistent common goal will become more difficult. It is vital to define transparent roles and responsibilities so that everyone knows what is expected. Building and maintaining a we-spirit may be difficult due to long distances. Team members may also feel unequal due to location. In the most common case, some of the employees are dispersed while others are concentrated to work in just one location. The team spirit may suffer from the feeling of inequality of the far-away members. Those working away from the team leader's office or outside the core team may easily feel at a disadvantage.
Face-to-face meetings contribute to the creation of team spirit and trust as well as knowledge sharing. Electronic communication also becomes more efficient when meetings are held often enough. 2
CHALLENGE #2 – TIME ZONES
Particularly in global teams, collaboration is challenged by asynchronous work. In some cases this can be useful if someone can continue working on the tasks in another time zone. When the workday ends in Asia it has only begun in Europe, and continues after that in America. So it is possible to reach a 24-hour workday. Coordinating collaboration across time zones requires special attention. Communication may get bogged down, and one may need to wait for answers until the following day. Global collaboration often consumes more time than...
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