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Virtual management, brought about by the rise of the Internet, globalization, outsourcing, telecommuting, and virtual teams, is management of frequently widely dispersed groups and individuals with rarely, if ever, meeting them face to face.
Due to developments in information technology within the workplace, along with a need to compete globally and address competitive demands, organisations have embraced virtual management structures. Virtual teams are typically composed of team members who are not located face-to-face and their communication is mediated through information and communication technologies (e.g. video conferencing, email and intranets). Virtual teams represent an important emerging organisational structure which facilitates collaboration between team members located almost anywhere in the world. It is estimated that 41 million corporate employees globally will spend at least one day a week as a virtual worker and 100 million will work from home at least one day a month.
The implementation of a virtual team structure has been shown to produce many benefits including reduced real estate expenses, increased productivity, access to global markets and environmental benefits due to a reduction in airline flights. Virtual teams are also becoming increasingly popular with workers who want to work at home, which can increase employee engagement. Furthermore, as a result of using appropriate communication media, a virtual team is not limited to members from the same physical location or organisation. As such, team members can be assembled according to the skills and backgrounds required, from anywhere in the world, enabling the organisation to become more flexible and to compete globally.
The virtual management could be introduced as a part of the virtual human capital development (Hanandi and Grimaldi 2010). The VHRD model is an approach of utilizing the captured knowledge and information inside the enterprise environment (top management, external expertise, knowledge worker, workforce), and leveraging this knowledge to a dynamic T&D e-content for developing and enhancing the human capital competitive advantage, This model focuses on rendering the human capital with the skills needed and driving their performance to face any future situation and solve it, by capturing the knowledge object during the interaction activities between the users and reuse it in producing a dynamic e-content for the training and development purpose and in the same adding value for the enterprise competitive advantage.
As with face-to-face teams, management of virtual teams is a crucial component in the effectiveness of the team. However, compared to leaders of face-to-face teams, virtual team leaders face the following difficulties: (a) logistical problems, including coordinating work across different time zones and physical distances; (b) interpersonal issues, including an ability to establish effective working relationships in the absence of frequent face-to-face communication; and (c) technological difficulties, including appropriate technology and ease-of-use. In global virtual teams, there is the added dimension of cultural differences which impact on a virtual team’s functioning.
An extensive study conducted over 8 years examined what factors increase leader effectiveness in virtual teams. This study identified 5 factors which are essential for effective leadership of virtual teams:
There are numerous features of a virtual team environment that may impact on the development of follower trust and the team members have to trust that the leader is allocating work fairly and evaluating team members equally.
Virtual team leaders need to spend more time than conventional team counterparts being explicit about expectations, because the patterns of behaviour and dynamics of interaction are unfamiliar. Moreover, even in information rich virtual teams using video conferencing, it is hard to replicate the rapid exchange of information and cues available in face-to-face discussions. In order to develop role clarity within virtual teams, leaders should focus on developing: (a) clear objectives and goals for tasks; (b) comprehensive milestones for deliverables; and (c) communication channels for seeking feedback on unclear role guidance.
While technology choice is important for the development of role clarity, virtual team leaders should be aware that information overload may result in situations when a leader has provided too much information to a team member.
Virtual team leaders need to become virtually present in order to closely monitor team members and notice any changes that might affect their ability to undertake their tasks. Due to the distributed nature of virtual teams, team members have less awareness of the wider situation of the team or dynamics of the overall team environment. Consequently, as situations change in a virtual team environment, such as adjustments to task requirements, modification of milestones, or changes to the goals of the team, it is important that leaders monitor followers to ensure they are aware of these changes and make amendments as required.
Finally, when examining virtual teams, it is crucial to consider that they differ in terms of their virtuality. Virtuality refers to a continuum of how "virtual" a team is  There are three predominant factors that contribute to virtuality, namely: (a) the richness of communication media; (b) distance between team members, both in time zones and geographical dispersion; and (c) organisational and cultural diversity.
- Virtual business
- Virtual community of practice
- Distributed development
- Virtual team
- Virtual volunteering
- Powell, A., Piccoli, G., & Ives, B. (2004). Virtual Teams: A Review of Current Literature and Directions for Future Research. Database for Advances in Information Systems, 35(1), 6-36.
- Jones, C. (2005). Teleworking: The Quiet Revolution (2005 Update). Stamford, CT: Gartner.
- Balthazard, P., Potter, R. E., & Warren, J. (2004). Expertise, Extraversion and Group Interaction Styles as Performance Indicators in Virtual Teams. Database for Advances in Information Systems, 35(1), 41-64.
- Musadaq Hanandi, Michele Grimaldi; Internal organizational and collaborative knowledge management: a Virtual HRD model based on Web 2.0; the International Journal of Advanced Computer Science & Applications, volume 1issue (4),page 11 - 19. September 2010.
- Bell, B. S., & Kozlowski, S. W. J. (2002). A typology of virtual teams: implications for effective leadership. Group and Organization Management, 27(1), 14-4
- Jury, A. W. (2008). Leadership Effectiveness within Virtual Teams: Investigating Mediating and Moderating Mechanisms. PhD Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland
- Jury, A. W., Bordia, P. and Krebs, S. A. (2005). Transformational leadership within virtual teams: Examining the mediating influence of trust and role clarity for performance and knowledge sharing. In 6th Australian Industrial and Organisational Psychology Conference, 30 June - 3 July 2005, (132-132), Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort, Gold Coast, QLD.
- Jury, A. W. (2008). Key themes for effective virtual team leaders. Illuminations. Australian Psychological Society, 5-7.
- Nevogt, Dave (21 August 2013). "5 steps to becoming a better virtual employee – An Employer’s perspective". Hubstaff. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- Kirkman, B. L., Rosen, B., Gibson, C. B., Tesluk, P. E., & McPherson, S. O. (2002). Five challenges to virtual team success: Lessons from Sabre Inc. . Academy of Management Executive, 16(3), 67-79.
- Managing the virtual realm, by Denise Dubie, Network World
- Dr Alister Jury's research into Leadership Effectiveness within Virtual Teams (University of Queensland)