In the past few weeks our blogs have been giving you a teaser of the juicy insights packed in our new white paper: Mastering virtual, matrix and digital teams – which we officially launch today. You can download free copies of the entire white paper or a series of shorter summaries of the research at https://globalintprd.wpengine.com/white-paper/
Based on our recent in-depth review of over 75 academic papers and management studies and the 23 years of experience since we developed the world’s first virtual teams training, this white paper series provides a blue print for:
- How to overcome the current challenges of working in remote, virtual and matrixed teams
- How to build the foundations to deal with the greater complexity and digital ways of working that are now hitting us
Enabled by communication technology, over the past 25 years virtual collaboration has evolved as a result of increasing distance from co-workers, increasing integration across functions and business units and increasing connectivity and speed. But in many cases, our ways of working and corporate culture have simply not kept pace.
The traditional barriers of distance, culture, time zones and working through technology remain. But now teams are becoming more fragmented: people work on multiple teams at the same time, and teams change more quickly as they form for specific projects and then disband. Add to the mix working in virtual cross-functional and extended teams in complex organizational structures that are supercharged by digital technologies – and it’s no wonder we’re all struggling to keep up.
In our white paper we summarize these different forms of virtual working as:
- Remote teams – team members report to one manager but some or all are geographically remote. A key issue is overcoming ’out of sight, out of mind’.
- Virtual teams – shorter term, ad-hoc project teams without formal structure, which may or may not also be remote. A key issue is how to lead through influence rather than heirachy.
- Matrix teams – any kind of ‘horizontal’ work that cuts across the traditional silos of geography, function and now often organizational boundaries to include customers and other partners. This may involve multiple formal reporting lines
- Digital teams – fast, agile, often multidisciplinary and largely autonomous teams fully enabled by technology and data, working to deliver key business goals
Each represents a step up in complexity, and we must master the first levels before we can move on to the next (see figure 1).
We cannot fully succeed at digital working until we’ve got the basics of remote, virtual and cross-functional/ matrix working right. Witness the tech giants such as IBM and Facebook that have tried to master digital ways of working without finessing their ability to work remotely – and so are having to call time on remote working and all the benefits it brings.
Where is your team/ department/ company on this journey?
According to research by McKinsey Digital, only a small percentage of companies have hit digital maturity, so most of us will be somewhere earlier on in the process.
The key point is that wherever we are in this journey we will experience increasingly complex and connected ways of working in the future, and now is the time to prepare our corporate culture, skills and ways of working so we are able to make the change.