Team 1: Outline

Team 1: 6 Things Everyone on the Team Needs to Know to Get off to the Best Start (Get Ready)


Topic Outline:


1. What makes a virtual team different from a face-to-face team?

2. What problems are exacerbated because of those virtual vs. face-to-face differences?

3. While the virtual team has operational challenges, what personal challenges are virtual team members working through?

4. What are best practices in planning and setting up virtual teams?

5. When danger signs occur, how can virtual teams be improved?

6. To use or not to use technology. What virtual team tasks are well-suited to technology?



1)    Virtual Teams versus Face-to-Face Teams: An Exploratory Study of a Web-based Conference System*


Merrill E. Warkentin, Lutfus Sayeed, Ross Hightower 


Notes: Research suggests that groups using Computer Mediated Communication Systems (CMCS) communicate less effectively in many circumstances than groups meeting face-to-face. Idea is to create asynchronous meetings (different time, different place), which create more structure than synchronous virtual meetings.


Why are there problems with virtual teams: Two important aspects: 1) When ad hoc groups not given sufficient time to adapt to one another or the communication medium; and, 2) using synchronous (same time) rather than asynchronous (different time) technologies. Asynchronous technologies (email and discussion forums offer advantages to exchange information while allowing members to concentrate on content, considering content and generating careful responses.


Benefits to Asynchronous (vs. Synchronous) meetings:  Synchronous (face to face meetings), have very little structure, communication is spontaneous. Asynchronous (virtual), there’s more structure, relies on documents exchanged among participants. “Compared to synchronous meetings, asynchronous meeting participants have longer to compose their messages and, therefore, it is easy to attribute an idea to its originator and establish the reason behind a particular decision. However, asynchronous meetings require more time than synchronous meetings because information exchange takes longer.” ( 


CMCS technologies: Being explored to facilitate asynchronous virtual meetings (email, Electronic Document Management, bulletin board systems, and Internet Usenet newsgroups. “One study (Straub & Karahanna, 1990) indicated that email (the most popular medium of communication in the workplace) users who share pre-meeting information report more effective communication during the meeting.”




Problems with Virtual communication: In face-to-face meetings, people use visual cues/body language to know when to give and receive messages. In virtual meetings that are synchronous, this is not obvious: conversations can appear out of context due to inability to keep up keyboard entry with current discussion topic. “Lack of nonverbal and paraverbal cues also reduces the richness of the information transmitted by virtual team members.” ( Exchanging information is more difficult, therefore, there is less socializing, less bonding and creation of relational links. Less relational links results in less creativity and motivation (lower morale).


2)    The Challenges of Working in Virtual Teams



Specific Differences: Virtual teams differed most from face‐ to‐ face teams in three areas: managing conflict, making decisions, and expressing opinions. All three of these areas are more challenging for virtual teams. It is also more difficult to express opinions under these circumstances, in particular, is “characteristic of indirect cultures.”  ( ). When opinions cannot be expressed, virtual teams find it more difficult to make decisions.


General Differences: Time zones presented the greatest general challenge, followed by language; holidays, local laws, and customs; and finally by technology. Technology presents the smallest of challenges.


Personal Challenges when Working Virtually: Greatest challenge is inability to read non‐ verbal cues, followed by it being harder to establish rapport and trust. It’s harder to see whole project / discussion picture because there’s a reliance on email, telephone and a sense of isolation.


Tactics Needed: Virtual requires specific training, tactics, and support. Organizations must learn to structure and manage virtual teams with people from “different cultures and work styles and who come together to meet at different times of the 24‐ hour work cycle.” ( ).

Three most important features of a good virtual teammate: 1) willingness to share information; 2), being proactively engaged; and 3) ability to be collaborative.

Important Tasks:


3)    The Virtual Team Challenge by Steven R. Rayner


Differences: Members are geographically separated and may reside in different time zones in various parts of the world. Interactions among members are frequent but are primarily conducted through an electronic linkage (e.g. telephone, fax, e-mail, video conferencing). Members may occasionally meet face-to-face, but this is clearly the exception due to the physical separation of their “home” location.


Two traditional team types:


Interesting fact: Although virtual teams are harder to manage than face-to-face (neighborhood teams), there are certain advantages to a virtual team:


4)    20 Simple Ways to Improve Virtual Meetings  by Interaction Associates


This article describes the benefits and problems that may occur within virtual meetings. The obvious advantage is the dispersed teams that allow more flexibility and productivity. However, issues may occur with virtual meetings such as full dependency on technology, cultural barriers, and communication problems. The author(s) of this article outlined numerous techniques and methods to improve virtual meetings, or in my opinion, get the virtual meetings started in the right direction.


To improve the effectiveness of a virtual meeting, this article describes ways to make the meetings more interactive and seem “real” to virtual participants. Some of their techniques include: use participants’ names, poll the group, create appropriate ground rules for teleconferences, and so on. The article also provides strategies used to deal with problems that may arise in virtual meetings. Again, if these issues are addressed prior to meetings, it should cause a productive meeting environment. Participants should plan ahead, sequence topics strategically, identify a facilitator, and numerous other strategies to ensure a positive meeting experience.


The article attempted to also provide information for other forms of virtual collaboration. It lists several common forms of technology (fax, email, etc.) and their advantages/disadvantages. In addition, users should consider several factors when choosing a form of virtual collaboration. The author(s) summarizes the factors into six elements: access, utility, security, support, training, and cost. All of these factors are important in the beginning stages of establishing a successful virtual meeting environment.


6)    How to Plan Virtual Meetings with a Global Teleworking Team  by Celine Roque


The author of this article focuses on working with colleagues in different countries and time zones. For global companies and teams, this could be the most imperative factor when planning meetings. It can be frustrating and beneficial at the same time. The article suggests scheduling multiple meetings for participants to choose from, or use a collaboration tool that automatically converts time zones for all meeting attendees.

Although this article focuses on global teleworking teams, I believe the advice given can assist with all virtual meetings. Roque further proves that all meetings (virtual or face-to-face) should follow a clear agenda that is created and provided beforehand. The technology that teams choose to use and it’s accessibility is key before starting any meeting. As always, participants should share feedback with one another in order to improve for future meetings.


6)    Purpose of Virtual Collaboration: The article provides a general overview why virtual collaboration is necessary and growing over the years.


7)    Managing Scope: The article provides an overview how to manage scope when dealing with virtual collaboration. It provides a best practices section.



8)    Deadlines: The article describes the common the reasons why virtual collaboration can lead to missed deadlines.


9)    Methods of Team Contact


Introductions:  The article discusses the initial setup of a virtual team by stating what needs to be addressed right away in order to ensure greater success using virtual communication.


     Trust : An interesting article stating that since virtual teams do not meet face to face they do not form a bond or trust      between other that face to face communication does.


10)    Defining Rolls: The article provides a detailed explanation on how to improve general collaboration by changing general practices

◦    Why a person is there?

◦    What exactly will you are doing?

◦    What are the expectations of you?



11)    Collaboration Tools (probably covered by other teams)


12)    Project Management

Managing a virtual team: The article provides a general overview of what should be addressed when managing a virtual team.


Reference back to any previous articles that discuss project management.


13)    Team Breakouts (probably covered by other teams)

Processes: Write processes related to how the project will be govern





Interaction Associates, Simple Ways to Improve Virtual Meetings  by


CultureWizard , The Challenges of Working in Virtual Teams



Gargiulo, Terrance. "The Power of Virtual Communitcation In Project Management." Alliancebestpractice. Web. <>.


Jantsch, John. "7 Virtual Collaboration Tools I Use Daily." Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing. 19 Dec. 2008. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. <>.


KuTenk 2000. "Learning Corner.Engineering Books.Management EBooks.Business Books.Computer Book.Discount Bookstore." Four Purposes of Virtual Collaboration. The Challenges of Virtual Collaborative Work System (CWS). 16 Apr. 2012. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. <>.


Lam, Wing, Alton Chua, and Jeremy B. Williams. "Real Problems with Virtual Teams: An Analysis of the Factors Leading to Dysfunctional Online Collaboration." Http:// Http://, May 2005. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. <>.


Mochal, Tom. "10 Tips for Managing Virtual Teams." TechRepublic. 13 Nov. 2008. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <>. Merrill E. Warkentin, Lutfus Sayeed, Ross Hightower


Olatilu, Busola. "How to Manage a Virtual Team." Ezinearticles. Http:// Web. 16 Apr. 2012.


Rayner, Steven R., The Virtual Team Challenge by


Roque, Celine, How to Plan Virtual Meetings with a Global Teleworking Team


Wigand, Rolf. "ICT Enabled Virtual Collaboration through Trust." Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Web. 18 Apr. 2012. <>.