Virtual Teams

Too Much Virtual Teamwork?

"Virtual Working Summit"Earlier this year Kevan Hall participated in the Virtual Working Summit, organized by Penny Pullan.

Here we extract some of the discussion in the first of three blog posts.

Many organizations today are using virtual teams and matrix structures to cut across the traditional vertical silos of function and geography. As a result, many more people are working on multiple teams, and have colleagues and even bosses in different locations, cultures and time zones: the cost and complexity of cooperation has increased.

Many organizations find that this has actually led to more poor quality meetings, conference calls and emails. In fact, our virtual team survey of about 4,000 people found that people are now part of an average of five teams and they’re spending on average a day a week in unnecessary cooperation.

That’s 20 percent of people’s time! Or nine years of your life – and in some weeks you feel you’ve had the lot, don’t you?

The real challenge is: how do we become more connected – as we need to be virtually – but at the same time, how do we stay effective and make our communication and our cooperation engaging and interesting?

I challenge the assumption that teamwork is always the best way to get things done. We’re obsessed with it, but I contend that there are some simpler, faster ways of getting things done that work more effectively through virtual working.  And of course, if you’re leading a global team the barrier becomes much higher. My first team meetings were down the hall in an office in London: it was no big deal if it was a lousy meeting as it was 30 minutes long and there were no transaction costs.

Today, if I spend $100,000 of my own money getting people together for a meeting and it’s poor quality, I’m going to be pretty disappointed (especially as I am Yorkshireman !).

 Hear the full interview here: Virtual Working Summit


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