Global team virtual collaboration report findings

Virtual team technology providing benefits but inter-personal issues still critical in global teams

Thanks to Dinesh Tantri for pointing me to a very useful and possibly under-exposed report by the Information Work Productivity Council into ‘IT Support for Global Collaboration’ published in January 2004.

IWPC conducted an on-line survey of 31 Global Teams in 27 companies which provides the underlying data for the report which is full of useful information and insights for both virtual technology developers and virtual team leaders.

For example, these global teams felt that whilst virtual technology helped well in the areas of collaboration and information access it was much less effective in support for knowledge creation activities.

The report notes that one size does not fit all and that organisations have to "assemble combinations of unintegrated collaboration tools to support their virtual teamwork"

The report also identifies the top 7 virtual collaborations challenges faced by these global teams (in descending order):

  1. Building Trust/Relationships
  2. Multiple Team Membership
  3. Different Time Zones
  4. Multiple technologies/media
  5. Cultural Diversity
  6. Shared Norms/Behaviors
  7. Language and Linguistics

It notes that items 2-4 are ‘logistical’ and are being well supported by virtual technologies, whilst the remaining items are ‘inter-personal’ and are much more difficult to support.

It also collates a very useful table of the typical frustrations users find with each type of tool and the 'work-arounds' they use to try and overcome them!

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