Virtual Teams Trends Report

Walk into any office today, and you know that things are not as they were a decade ago. Ask employees about their co-workers, and many will say they are working on projects with colleagues in a different building, a different city, or even a different country. The business landscape has changed, as globalization and technology have reshaped the way we conceptualize team work and conduct business. There are substantial changes in how teams are structured across the globe, and therefore organizations must identify challenges inherent in leading a virtual workforce, and then devise appropriate strategies to meet them.

AIM Strategies® CEO Yael Zofi, explores these challenges and techniques in her new book A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams. In preparation for writing this book, Zofi and AIM colleagues collected and analyzed data from interviews with 150 virtual team (VT) managers, members, CEOs, leaders and clients from diverse industries and countries. Although the book is not scheduled to be released until the Fall/Winter of 2010, this report will preview the trends uncovered in these interviews.

Interview questions identified four key areas common to VTs: communication, trust, conflict and deliverables. While interviews were conducted to determine commonalities around these four areas (which the upcoming book explores in depth), we also found several notable trends, such as (1) the frequency of team ‘check-ins’ as a determinant of success and (2) the need for tight coordination of work schedules across a wide span of time zones (and the repercussions of these efforts). In addition, we found a curious lack of a universally accepted definition for the term ‘virtual team’.

We are pleased to present the findings of our research, which would not have been possible without the participants who graciously consented to be interviewed. Their contributions are greatly appreciated; their thoughtful responses helped us reach several interesting conclusions, which follow. These trends should spark healthy conversations about how today’s global leaders and senior business management teams can develop new strategies to lead virtual teams.

VTs Trends Report:
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