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Virtual vs. Local Teams: Communication Success & Failure—Kathy Moore

June 21, 2012

Kathy Moore shared ideas about the different challenges between working with colleagues locally and globally using virtual technologies. Because I work in a global company, this applies to my daily work.

Employers often assign tech-savvy workers to virtual teams, but online ubiquity does not guarantee communications success on virtual teams. Too often, we try to make up for the lack of distance and trouble understanding accents by replacing talking with e-mails. But many virtual team members feel inundated with e-mails.

While it delays communication a little, Kathy emphasized the importance of the separation of our work lives and personal lives. She suggested everyone create a personal policy about how quickly they will respond to communications and when they will not check their e-mail, phones, etc.

Many managers make suggestions rather than make a command. While this is clear to those of us who are used to the business culture in United States, others from different culture don’t realize this is an action assigned. It is important that actions are directly communicated.

Because virtual teams are an intensified version of a team. It often requires more time and effort than expected to lead a virtual team. Kathy suggested team members be theatrical and go over the top to communicate. She stressed that it is important that the message is the focus, not the medium. At times team members will make their message shorter to fit an e-mail, rather than choosing a different delivery method to ensure the message is received as it is intended.

There is less natural negotiating with asynchronous communication. Team members can deliver a package because they have time to revise most communication. There are pros and cons with this communication.

Another challenge with virtual (and local) teams is to include introverts in calls and meetings. Allow hesitant speakers time to gather their thoughts to share with the group.

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