Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Themes and theories for working in virtual project teams
Themes and theories for working in virtual project teams

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2.5 The environment of a team

The team environment consists of the space in which they are located, the organisation to which the team belongs and the technology available to the team. If a team is collocated, the immediate physical environment in which they work is visible. The organisation will be within a particular business sector and this sector will have an established culture or set of conventions, which also forms part of the team environment. Furthermore, the country in which that part of the organisation the team is based in will provide a legislative environment and cultural background. Of course, team members of a collocated team might not be from the same country background as the organisation, thereby adding to the cultural diversity within the team environment. However, when creating collocated teams there is often a tendency to look for people locally to fulfil the needs of the team, so there is a likelihood that the team will have members with similar cultural backgrounds and who are familiar with the local legislative environment. If so, this can more easily lead to a common understanding of social and ethical issues and team members being likely to work within common professional frameworks.

The identification of the environment of a virtual team is more complicated. Team members may reside in different countries and have different cultural backgrounds. Their business and legislative environments may be different, which can influence their behaviour or affect the environment in which they are working. For example, the pattern of a typical working week varies from one country to another, and public holidays are often different. This course does not go into detail regarding legislative differences, but it is an aspect that must be kept in mind when considering contracts and other legal obligations for the team and its members.

The workspace of a collocated team is usually easily visible to all team members; for example, it might be an area with workstations appropriate to the type of work being undertaken with charts and white board on the wall. A virtual workspace may be less easily visible since team members may have to access the virtual workspace as an activity additional to using their workstation for their own project tasks. Typically, virtual workspaces contain similar information to physical workspaces, such as schedules, allocated tasks, and outstanding issues. The form of the virtual workspace can be whatever is agreed by the virtual team, although in practice this may be limited to what is available within the organisation or to the tools with which most team members are familiar. Virtual workspaces can vary enormously and can consist of one or more of a centrally held file structure, email, websites, collaborative tools such as forums and wikis and specially created environments in virtual worlds such as Second Life.