3. What are the main developments that have enabled more flexible work arrangements to flourish?
The pervasive adoption of the Internet as a means to collaborate, communicate and accomplished shared objectives has been the single greatest contributor to the development of virtual teams. The many software applications that are used across the Internet, from shared workspaces called groupware and secured portals to real-time chat and collaboration platforms designed to secure connect workers globally, innovation continues to make new levels of productivity (Hayman, 2010). The Internet set the foundation for free services including Skype that can connect virtual teams globally in seconds with both voice and video connections. Cloud computing is also increasing the adoption of shared collaboration and communication platforms, leading to the creation of applications that can enable 24/7 development of complex products and services across virtual teams. There are also advances in performance management applications and tools that enable greater levels of shared task and goal attainment, giving virtual team members the ability anytime to see how their contributions are making a difference in their company's performance. The ability to create software applications that can report back the level of performance and its impact on the broader results of an organization are a powerful motivator for virtual team members to stay committed and focused on their tasks (Relja, Bandalovic, 2008). These technologies are most successful in highly organic organizations that have the flexibility of defining communication and collaboration workflows that can be quickly automated and strengthened over time. What all of these technologies share is the ability to inspire and nurture trust between workers virtually, and each shares their progress towards common, often highly complex goals (van Meel, 2011).
4. What are the main benefits to the organisation of introducing flexible working arrangements for employees?
The benefits to organizations of creating flexible working arrangements including virtual teams are numerous and have shown to deliver significant financial value to the companies who adopt these approaches (Virick, DaSilva, Arrington, 2010). The greatest benefit, as measured through a series of empirical and longitudinal studies, is the ability to integrate a widely diverse knowledge base and skill set to drive innovation and address complex tasks (Pyoria, 2011) (Weisberg, Porell, 2011). The combining of a unique series of skill sets without regard to the physical location fo the contributors has shown to be highly effective in delivering significantly greater value than teams organized in a purely hierarchical organizational structure (Golden, Raghuram, 2010). There are also examples of how virtual teams designed to complete complex tasks in organic organizations can outperform their purely mechanistic counterparts using advanced communications and collaboration techniques and technologies (Wang, Ahmed, 2003). Another benefit to organizations of creating these flexible work arrangements or virtual teams are the cost reductions by reducing the amount of office space purchased or leased, the reduction in supporting services within an office, and the reduction in insurance for a larger building (Hayman, 2010). A third benefit is the ability to reduce the impact on the environment by reducing the carbon footprint of the entire company (Morganson, Major, Oborn, Verive, Heelan. 2010). As European countries begin to consider taxes on the carbon imprint of organizations, this benefit will become even more significant over time. Virtual teams are able to accomplish more complex, longer-term projects by staying motivated by shared accomplishment and accountability (Pyoria, 2011).
5. Choose one team member to strive and deliver the greatest possible value all the time -- nothing short of complete commitment will make the goal accomplishable (Golden, Raghuram, 2010). When a remote team member or member of a virtual team is choosing how to allocate their time to attain a step in a complex objective being attained, their judgment will dictate if the entire team attains their goal or not. It is in that moment of judgment that Theory Y shows the greatest value, as it supports the three core building blocks of intrinsic motivation. Autonomy, mastery and purpose are the most critical aspects of any job design and serve as the foundation of the most successful virtual teams (Morganson, Major, Oborn, Verive, Heelan. 2010).
The design of virtual teams must be predicated on trust in order for their greatest potential to be achieved (Pyoria, 2011). The most effective virtual teams and remote working arrangements are more predicated on workers who have a strong sense of individual contribution and willingness to do their part for a shared, common, often complex, challenging goal to be attained. Just as organic organizations are excellent at fostering transformational leaders, virtual teams also create a highly effective framework for instilling trust and authenticity across teams globally. These values are the accelerators of accomplishment in virtual teams and within remote workers who can actually accomplish more in an organic organization compared to a mechanistic one.
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