Virtual Teams: what you miss out on.
Many people these days work in virtual teams, where everyone is geographically separated. Whilst modern collaborative systems can mean the work gets done, when it comes to communication a lot gets lost and I am sure the costs are huge.
Here are a few of my issues that I hope will be totally alleviated in the next 50 years once video conferencing finally becoming slick, smooth and general usable.
- Different first languages. I am always amazed how many UK-specific phrases I use without thinking.
- Nerves. People talk faster and differently when nervous … not helpful on the phone.
- Cultural Differences and their embedded expectations (see globesmart)
- No Body Language. After saying something does silence mean it was understood or not?
- Phone quality impacts voice intonation getting through (e.g. VOIP lines are generally poor)
- Personalities. who shouts loudest gets heard (although similar can exist in the face-to-face meetings too)
- Cannot raise your hand – gestures cannot be used to aid involvement, you have to wait or interrupt.
- Takes a long time to say something
- Often the default method, where a phone call would be quicker/richer
- Quality matters, which again means it takes longer to write
- Many people like to use odd colors, fonts, backgrounds – often detracting views from the actual words
- Send and forget – means you wait for a reply and things progress at a snail’s pace.
- I’ll not go into the proper use of CC and BCC here (i.e. rarely) … I am sure you know the problems there.
- Typos are easy, often confusing meaning (I used to write now in place of not quite a lot -nightmare)
- Sarcasm doesnt work at all
- Flashing toolbars are very distracting, especially when its a group discussion that I don’t care about
- Very sensitive to temporary connection problems, and when they occur messages are often lost
I appreciate this has no solutions to these problems (yet), but a problem identified is half solved (honest).