“The Canadian mobile worker population is set to increase from 12.1 million in 2012, accounting for 68.9 per cent of employed Canadians, to 13.3 million in 2016, or 73 per cent of the work force.”
(Globe and Mail, 2013)
Canadians have embraced the concept of “bring your own device” (BYOD) to work, which gives employees individual choice in connecting with co-workers and/or accessing information located on company “clouds.” Laptops, notebooks, smart phones, tablets, USB wireless sticks and mobile internet hubs signify the emergence of a robust mobile work population. Canada’s increasingly competitive wireless market has escalated the spread of viable collaboration tools that promise real-time communication. Homes, coffee shops, airports and cars transform into office space with the power of a WIFI network where speed and capacity are experiencing sustained advances.
The era of mobile workers and virtual teams has arrived. There is no turning back.
Virtual teams are different from face-to-face interactions. In a recent presentation, Martine Durier-Copp suggested that e-leaders benefit from using a fresh approach to employee engagement. Utilizing technology to increase media richness, adopting evolving best practices and developing organizational supports can counter the challenges commonly faced by virtual teams:
- cultivating trust
- lack of face-to-face contact / isolation
- communication (language and cultural) barriers
- aligning goals of individual team members
- obtaining clarity regarding team objectives
- ensuring that the team possesses necessary knowledge and skills
- ensuring the availability of sufficient technology resources
Martine believes that major communication breakdowns and conflicts in virtual teams can be mitigated through leadership intervention. If issues do arise, members of the team and team leaders will be better equipped to take action and reduce negative team results. The successful e-leader leads by example, recognizing the power of technology to celebrate individual contributions and encourage team success.
Next post in the Virtual Team series: Leading the Virtual Team – A Graduate’s Voice