Teams are increasingly using technology (e.g., email, phone, instant chat) to collaborate, rather than face-to-face communication. Research shows that virtual teamwork is more challenging than collaboration where team members interact face-to-face. For example, teams who collaborate virtually are at greater risk for dysfunctional conflict and tend to have greater difficulty building trust. The tools on the website can help to support more effective virtual teamwork.
Virtual Collaboration Strategies
There is often an assumption that there is no difference between collaborating virtually and more traditional face-to-face teamwork. Start by building awareness among team members about the challenges of virtual teamwork. The team member Virtual Collaboration Strategies document outlines five important strategies for being a more effective virtual team member.
Virtual Team Charter
A team charter is a document that documents important information about the team and its members as well as how team members will work together to accomplish the task. Team members should work collaboratively to develop and approve the team charter. The team charter is a “living” document that the team should update, as needed, as it works together. The Virtual Team Charter Template template provides an outline for a team charter that encourages team members to specifically address how the team will interact virtually. The template refers to the documents below.
Technology Selection Guide
Teams engage in different types of tasks to accomplish their goal. Some communication technologies are better suited than others for accomplishing certain tasks. It is important for teams to select the appropriate communication technology to accomplish different types of tasks. The Technology Selection Guide can help teams select the right tools for the team’s different tasks and is helpful input to the team communication and technology plan section of the team charter.
Virtual Team Meeting Guidelines
Team meetings are more challenging when team members are not interacting face-to-face. The Virtual Team Meeting Guidelines document contains tips for more effective virtual team meetings. When developing the roles and responsibilities section of the team charter, teams should also assign any roles and responsibilities required for effective virtual team meetings.
Virtual Team Norms
Team norms are guidelines for how team members should interact with each other. They describe expectations about acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for team members. The team should establish norms for any aspect of working together that the team believes is important for effective team functioning. Then, as team members work together, other important norms might emerge and the team may decide to add to or modify the norms they originally set. The Virtual Team Norms document provide suggestions for norms related to a team’s virtual interactions as a starting point for teams to think about the norms they want to include in the team charter.