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Working in diverse teams
Working in diverse teams

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3 Issues with working in virtual teams

In the last section, you considered some of the benefits of working in virtual teams both for the employer and the employee. You are now going to listen to an interview with Vanessa who works as part of a virtual team spanning the UK and Germany. Her role is as an author of English language textbooks and she works closely with her co-author who lives in a different part of the UK. Together they are employed by an educational publishing company located in Germany.

Activity 2 Virtual teams

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Watch this interview, and make notes on the issues that arise from this way of working and what Vanessa has done to overcome these.

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Some of the common issues associated with working in virtual teams include:

  • building relationships with teammates is much harder if they are not there for small talk
  • reliance on technology and communication at a distance – what if the technology fails or connectivity is poor?
  • misinterpretation of information in emails due to lack of visual cues through body language
  • different countries and different cultures working together can increase conflict
  • harder to resolve team conflict at a distance
  • scheduling meetings can take longer as you need to find out when everyone is available
  • isolation and loneliness may affect motivation and possibly even mental health
  • your standing in the team may be diminished as you are not physically present, so you get missed out or forgotten as it’s easier to work with team members who are present
  • different time zones may mean that there is little overlap and a narrow window for actual synchronous communication
  • one’s professional image can suffer if working from home, with Skype interviews becoming more common than face-to-face encounters.