Virtual Teams: Technology and the Workplace of the Future
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Managers are challenged to develop strategically flexible organizations in response to increasingly competitive marketplaces. Fortunately, a new generation of information and telecommunications technology provides the foundation for resilient new organizational forms that would have not been feasible only a decade ago. One of the most exciting of these new forms, the virtual team, will enable organizations to become more flexible by providing the impressive productivity of team-based designs in environments where teamwork would have once been impossible. Virtual teams, which are linked primarily through advanced computer and telecommunications technologies, provide a potent response to the challenges associated with today's downsized and lean organizations, and to the resulting geographical dispersion of essential employees. Virtual teams also address new workforce demographics, where the best employees may be located anywhere the world, and where workers demand increasing technological sophistication and personal flexibility. With virtual teams, organizations can build teams with optimum membership while retaining the advantages of flat organizational structure. Additionally, firms benefit from virtual teams through access to previously unavailable expertise, enhanced cross-functional interaction, and the use of systems that improve the quality of the virtual team's work.
This article is published as 51. Townsend, A.M, DeMarie, S.M. and Hendrickson, A.R. (1998). Virtual Teams: Technology and the workplace of the future. Academy of Management Executive, 12(3), 17-29. Posted with permission.