Do People in Virtual Teams Need Face Time?


Yesterday I presented a condensed version of the driving effective use workshop, albeit without a specific Office 365 focus. The “masterclass” was presented online to 10-12 people in Australia.

After setting the scene (“What Does Effective Use Look Like?”), one of the questions from a delegate in the discussion was about virtual teams, and whether face-to-face (in-person) time was necessary.

My answer was that virtual teams are increasingly common, but no one that I know of who advises firms on virtual teams recommends the complete absence of face-to-face / in-person time as a virtual team design strategy (and in my work I don’t either). Put another way, while virtual teams make a lot of sense in many situations, and are increasingly used across the world, high-performance is more likely where team members are able to meet in-person on a semi-regular basis. Some firms do a six-monthly team meeting at a given location, others stretch it out to a year (which in my view is a bit too long), while some can have teams meeting together on a more regular basis. But the overall design recommendation is virtual most of the time, with periodic face-to-face interactions (in-person, not by video conferencing) at least twice a year.

Actually, back in 2008 I wrote a whole series on virtual teams, called the A-Z of Virtual Teams (although I only did 17 of the letters at the time). One of the letters I did write though was called V is for Visiting Team Members, which is in the same concept stream as the question above. That “V” advice still stands.

One thought on “Do People in Virtual Teams Need Face Time?

  1. Greetings Michael
    I believe that the research by Darl Kolb at Auckland University would answer (a qualified) “Yes”. He has come up with a concept called “requisite connectivity” – and separates out technical connectivity (i.e. good hardware, telecomms etc) versus other kinds of connectivity. Because we are humans – and not machines – we behave differently from computers.

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