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Challenges faced by Virtual Teams

Question:

Discuss About The Team Based Activities Educational Programs?

Keeping virtual team on the same page poses a great challenge for managers. With communication technologies improving, people have managed to exchange information and ideas with colleagues in a different location. The team-based work attracts an extraordinary expectation regarding the assignment task sharing, team meeting structure and frequency, and the individual preparation time. Based on the case study, it is evident that communication is presenting a significant challenge for the virtual team. The technology was seen as the solution to this problem. Nonetheless, the Director expressed reservations for this new technology. Given the challenges associated with this virtual team, the memo analyzes the team-based activities in educational programs.

The issue of compatibility of computing platform is a challenge that requires swiftly response. Importantly, the virtual teams have found it impossible to communicate effectively because the team members have diverse cultures and working environments (Brown 2016). The situation has been made worse when each team member uses favorite software tool to exchange data, interact, and track projects. For instance, some team members prefer the Windows-based computers and Apple. These tools use different software applications thus making difficult to interact and complete group assignments.

Additionally, communication and sharing of information is an important factor in determining the success of a virtual team. This challenge is agreeable by all stakeholders. The holding of synchronous meetings is a problem because it affects the operations and communication between the team members (Stasi 2013). For instance, the director can organize in-person meetings through the Ivey’s ING Center. Similarly, the director can opt for face-to-face meetings with individuals who are available physically. However, such meetings would be disadvantageous to the individuals beyond the physical reach (Zofi 2011). It is possible for the collated teams to communicate frequently compared to virtual teams. Studies have indicated that without face-to-face communication, building trust can prove difficult as evident in the case study (Zakaria, Amelinckx & Wilemon 2004). The concern of the director is genuine regarding the use of virtual tools like Skype or WebEx. Since each team member has a favorite tool, it is nearly impossible to facilitate the mix.

The issues of determining the mechanics of sharing a synchronous document are incomprehensible. The director has reiterated the availability of Google Drive or Dropbox to help in storing documents. Although these mechanics are essential in virtual teams, each team member has a preferred tool while others are inexperienced in using them. This challenge can never be handled properly without leadership. The director must discuss with the team members to build consensus on the best tool to facilitate the information and document storage and sharing.

Communication and Information Sharing Tools

The technology tools summarized in Exhibit 3 focuses on the popular synchronous communication tools including Skype, WebEx, GoToMeeting, and AnyMeeting while in Exhibit 4, the popular asynchronous storage solutions are summarized including Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, and Dropbox. The services focused on the exhibit 3 include audio & video, file sharing, screen sharing, polls, and record meeting (Neufeld & Santora 2013). The tool with the most acceptable services seems to be AnyMeeting. On the other hand, Exhibit 4 focuses on popular asynchronous storage solutions based on the free space, encrypted storage, telephone support, platforms, and maximum per-file size. Without a doubt, Google Drive is the most acceptable storage solution because services can accommodate the needs of team members.

The team can use asynchronous storage tools for a team writing exercise installing relevant software or drive. For instance, the team can use the platforms provided by the storage solution to complete a writing team exercises. Interestingly, the storage capacity of the drive is also important. The drive with the largest space capacity like Google Drive (15 GB) can accommodate the needs of the team. Apart from its compatibility with various platforms, it can allow the team to write the exercise without interfering with the computer. Upon writing on the platform, the team can use the synchronous communication tool to share the files and screen share.

Based on exhibit 3, the popular synchronous communication tool that should be recommended for the team members should be AnyMeeting. This is because; the technology can accommodate the needs and expectations of all the managers. For instance, it allows for 6-way video and free (ad-supported) at a premium $18/month. The team members can access the audio and video alongside undertake file-sharing services (Martinic, Fertajl & Kalpic 2012). Since the team members are available at different times physically, AnyMeeting offers them an opportunity to express their views, ask questions through Whiteboard, and screen sharing programs (Mattus 2010). It would be prudent for the team members to consider this platform because it also allows them to record meetings thus follow-up.

Similarly, the team members should be advised to use the popular asynchronous storage solutions to avoid losing important discussions. Given the volume of work and course contents, the students or team members should use Google Drive. This storage solution has an acceptable free space of about 15 GB. Indisputably, the capacity of Google Drive is incomparable to other asynchronous storage solutions. Additionally, Google Drive has an acceptable maximum per-file size of 10 GB and operates in different platforms like iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and BlackBerry. Therefore, Google Drive offers the team the best opportunity to store files and it can accommodate most of the members due to the diverse platform.

Best Practices to Build Trust Among Team Members

The coordination of the activities is also important in teamwork. Since the team members are apart, it is important for a team leader to use the best project management services to coordinate their operations. In fact, the leader should also consider the cost and acceptability of the service (Zakaria et al. 2004). Based on the project management services provided in Exhibit 5, Basecamp is the best platform to facilitate the project coordination. The team members can also collaborate efficiently using this service (Martinic, Fertajl & Kalpic 2012). Apart from vendor support, Basecamp is compatible with nearly all the mobile platforms including iOS, Window, Android, and BlackBerry.

Trust is an important factor in a global virtual team because members transcend culture, space, and time. The team members should use the best communication behavior’s that would embrace trust (Sarker, Ahuja, Sarker and Kirkeby 2011). This is because; the trust evident in the virtual is temporal and fragile. Trust defines the relationship in the team based on interaction, additive, and mediation. The team members should use social networking approach to influence their performance. Since virtual teams, never work face-to-face, building trust would be difficult. However, through frequent sharing of information, interaction, and developing shared culture will build the trust. Therefore, the team must continue to invest in building communication trust to improve performance.

Conclusion

Virtual teams have become common in the modern educational programs. It has, however, exposes the team leaders and institution into challenges because of different tools involved. With the global fiber-optic networks, long-distance technologies have made the communication easier and challenging. The global platform has enhanced collaboration, information sharing, knowledge sharing, and meetings. The global virtual teams can improve their functionality through platforms. Based on the case study, the director has the opportunity to take the lead to help in defining the ground rules. This will reduce the communication difficulties experienced. For instance, synchronize or standardize technology will facilitate communication and information sharing among the team members. The standardized platform will enhance learning and coordination of activities. Although face-to-face meetings are preferable but given the circumstances at hand, it is prudent for the director to encourage digital interactions and meeting.

References

Brown, G 2016, July 1, “The challenges of virtual teams in project management”, The EXELOS Blog. Available at: https://www.axelos.com/news/blogs/july-2016/challenges-of-virtual-teams-in-project-management

Lilian, SC 2014, January 24, “Virtual teams: opportunities and challenges for e-leaders”, Procedia-Social and Behavioural Sciences, vol. 110, pp. 1251-1261.

Martinic, A, Fertalj, K & Kalpic, D 2012, September 20, Integrated framework for virtual team management. IEEE, Cavtat, Croatia.

Mattus, TJ 2010, The challenges of managing virtual project teams. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2010—EMEA, Milan, Italy. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Neufeld, D & Santora, J 2013, August 13, “Virtual teams at Ivey”, Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/product/virtual-teams-at-ivey/W13343-PDF-ENG

Nydegger, R & Nydegger, L 2010, “Challenges in Managing Virtual Teams”, Journal of Business & Economics Research, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 69-82.

Sarker, S, Ahuja, M, Sarker, S & Kirkeby, S 2011, “The Role of Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Teams: A Social Network Perspective.” Journal of Management Information Systems, vol. 28, no. 1, pp.273-310

Stasi, CE 2013, “Effective communications in virtual team”, OUBS Alumni Careers Network Industry Insights. Available at https://www.open.ac.uk/business-school/sites/www.open.ac.uk.business-school/files/files/Virtual%20Teams%20-%20Carlo_S.pdf

Zakaria, N, Amelinckx, A & Wilemon, D 2004, “Working together apart? building a knowledge-sharing culture for global virtual teams”, Creativity and Innovation Management, vol. 13, iss. 1, pp. 15-29.

Zofi, Y 2011, A manager’s guide to virtual teams, 1st edn. AMACOM, New York, NY.

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