Culture & Competency

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.

Categories: Culture & Competency

1 reply »

  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.