Virtual Teams - useful or not? A discussion of the benefits and problems with virtual teams

Essay, 2014
8 Pages

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Table of Contents


2.1 Benefits of Virtual Teams
2.2 Problems with Virtual teams




List of Illustrations

Illustration 1: Success Factors of a Virtual Team (Akin & Rumpf, 2013, S. 17)

1. Introduction

A research of the HayGroup in the year shows that in the year 2014 already 66% of multinational companies have made extensive use of virtual teams (Levey, 2014). 1In many companies working in a virtual team is already daily business and it will continue to increase in the future. The reasons for the increasing use of virtual teams is the ability for organizations to bridge time and space (Berry, 2011). However, many reports also show an opposite scenario by implementing virtual teams in reality. This raises the question, are virtual teams really useful?

2. Benefits and Problems with Virtual Teams

2.1 Benefits of Virtual Teams

Most of the virtual teams are founded on frameworks that allow team members to work from home and other places outside of the organization’s physical boundaries. This generates a lot of flexibility among the team members who are able to work at any time and from any place without wasting commuting time and other resources that are vital for business growth. Some people might think that employees will be less productive without a given framework, but several researches show, that the motivation to work increases with a more flexible time management (Kremer & Janneck, 2013) and, as most deliverables are collected electronically, the records can in addition to documentation and revue purposes also serve for monitoring (C. B. Gibson, 2003). Apart from this, the aspect of effectively utilizing all resources without wastage, increases productivity and makes it possible for companies to maximize profits and revenues among other benefits. The bottom line is, that the changing digital and working lifestyle ask for this flexibility to increase the work-life-balance on the one hand and the requirements of globalization 2.0 forces organization to optimize its time management on the other hand. To generate this appropriate flexibility a virtual team is the proper tool.

A second research of the HayGroup of the year 2013 is attached in the Appendix, p. 9

The opportunity of bridging the physical boundaries leads to another advantage of virtual teams - the extended market possibilities (Maynard, 2006). The presence of many team members in different parts of the globe, make it possible for the organizations to establish their presence and to promote their products through the members in various regions. While working together with people from different countries and cultures it has to be considered that every team member may have an other understanding of the given goals, which may have a demanding effect on the team performance. But normally “these lack-of-shared-information issues appear to fade” (Berry, 2011, S. 195). Although the outcome will be lower in the early period, the reduced travel costs as well as time savings will close this gap. Apart of the efficiency, virtual teams also help to reduce the organizational carbon foot print, which will become a more important issue in the future because of the climate change.

Beside of the opportunity to bridge physical boundaries virtual teams enable also to bridge time. Virtual teams are able to expand their working hours up to twenty- four hours a day, the so called principle to “follow the sun” (Berry, 2011). The utilization of electronic mediums of communication, virtual platforms, data storage and retrieval systems make it possible for different team members to take over from where the other team had left (Berry, 2011). The implementation to set up a fail­safe technology in all locations is of course time-consuming and expensive but the increased productivity is therefore one of the advantages that is realized upon development of a virtual team. The consistency that is promoted by virtual teams makes it possible for organizations to grow and expand within a short period.

At least, in some business areas organizations don’t have another choice than making use of a virtual collaboration, because the human labor with specific required professional expertise is not available in the region (Berry, 2011). Virtual Teams allow organizations to hire talents from everywhere all over the world without the requirement to move to a specific area. With regard to the demographic change, countries like Germany will have to fall back on human beings from abroad due to the given age structure.

2.2 Problems with Virtual teams

According to a survey of Telekom approximately 70% of all virtual team’s fail (Müller, 2013). It seems that this survey would destroy every positive argument mentioned above. And of course, there are a lot of difficulties caused by the use of virtual teams, some were already named. The main problem is, that organizations design and lead virtual teams in the same way the lead traditional teams, and this processing isn’t successful. Organizations have to understand, that a virtual team depends on other factors than a traditional team. In a virtual team it is to be noticed that a team meeting needs a more intensive preparation and that every team member has to be familiar with the available technology. The biggest adjustment concerns the leadership. Beside of intercultural and language competencies of each team member, the team leader has also to consider the aspects of missing trust. (Akin & Rumpf, 2013). This success factors of a virtual team are visualized in the following illustration.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

By paying attention and obeying this rules there is a high probability to get the virtual team to work.

3. Conclusion

The challenges that business faces are greater than ever before. Globalization 2.0 forces organizations to cut travel cost and optimize the time management, the climate change and its impact of the environment increases the demand for reducing organizational carbon foot print, the demographic change will lead organizations to fall back to employees of other countries who may not want to move. At least the individualization, value pluralism as well as digital and working lifestyle ask for a better work-life balance. To sum up, there are a lot of demanding megatrends organizations have to tackle with (Akin & Rumpf, 2013). Therefore, I think that - although the use of virtual teams involves some difficulties in implementation - virtual teams are a useful tool to master the challenges of the future world.


Akin, N.,& Rumpf, J. (2013, März). Führung virtueller Teams. Retrieved from

Berry, G. R. (2011, April). ENHANCING EFFECTIVENESS ON VIRTUAL TEAMS - Understanding WhyTraditional Team Skills Are Insufficient. Journal ofBusiness Communication, pp. 187-206.

C. B. Gibson, &. S. (2003). Virtual teams that work: Creating Conditionsfor virtual team effectiveness. San Francisco.

Herrmann, D., Hüneke, К., & Rohrberg, A. (2012). Führung aufDistanz (2. Auflage ed.). Wiesbaden: GablerVerlag.

Kremer, M., &Janneck, M. (2013). Kommunikation und Kooperation in Virtuellen Teams. Wiesbaden: SpringerVerlag.

Levey, S. (2014, Juli). Targettraining. Retrieved from statistics-virtual-teams/

Müller, D. E. (2013, November). Virtuelle Teams managen. Retrieved from managen/

Maynard, M. T. (2006, August). Group potency: Are virtual teams at a developmental disadvantage?. Hawaii: Paperpresented attheAcademyof Management Conference.

Solomon, C. M. (2001). Managingvirtual teams. Worcforce, pp. 60-64.


Appendix I: A second research of the HayGroup of the year 2013

illustration not visible in this excerpt

8 of 8 pages


Virtual Teams - useful or not? A discussion of the benefits and problems with virtual teams
Reutlingen University
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Aus der Reihe: stipendiaten-wissen
Virtual Teams, social media, multinational companies
Quote paper
Meike Gutknecht (Author), 2014, Virtual Teams - useful or not? A discussion of the benefits and problems with virtual teams, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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