Interactive Effects of Team Virtuality and Work Design on Team Functioning

Lisa Handke, Florian E. Klonek, Sharon K. Parker, Simone Kauffeld
  • Small Group Research, July 2019, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1046496419863490

How „virtual“ has your work become? How you can improve the performance of your virtual team

What is it about?

Virtual teamwork is quickly becoming the new normal in many organizations and industries. This is why it is interesting to ask: Do virtual teams function differently when we compare them to face-to-face teams? Is virtuality bad or good for team performance? We wanted to solve this puzzle by looking at the work design of virtual teams. The work design of teams can be understood around the job resources that teams have (for example, autonomy, feedback, or social support), and the extent that teams are working on tasks that require much knowledge, or that are complex or unpredictable. Across 48 different studies, we looked at how team work design either switched on or switched off the relationship between virtuality and team functioning. We found that four aspects of work design were important: • Virtuality in teams seems to impair team functioning (in comparison to face-to-face teamwork) when work involves complex, non-routine tasks, and requires lots of information processing. • When work demands are high (such as time pressure or team members lacking clearly assigned roles), virtual teams perform worse than traditional teams. • When work provides many job resources (autonomy, feedback and/or social support), virtual teams function better than traditional teams. • When team members depend on each other to get a project done, it stimulates learning and helps performance.

Why is it important?

Over the last decade, most of us have experienced a steady increase in virtual tools that organizations are using to help their employees accomplish tasks, communicate with others, and coordinate large-scale projects. Our research helps organisations to understand how they can change the structure and organisation of virtual teamwork to help them perform better.

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The following have contributed to this page: Florian Klonek

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