Economist Intelligence Unit Launches new Research on Managing Virtual Teams Sponsored by NEC Philips Unified Solutions

Jan 14, 2010, 05:57 ET from NEC Philips Unified Solutions

CAMBRIDGE, England, January 14 /PRNewswire/ --

- One in Three Executives Believe Virtual Teams are Badly Managed

Although working in virtual teams is now the norm for the vast majority of executives - using video conferencing solutions and other collaborative communication solutions - about one in three agrees that virtual teams are badly managed. There are many problems in managing virtual teams - many of which can be addressed with the right video conferencing solutions and other collaborative communication solutions - two of the biggest being misunderstandings arising from cultural differences and the general difficulty of leading people from a distance. Nevertheless, 65% of those polled believe that the advantages of working in such teams outweigh the disadvantages.

The prevalence of virtual teams and the methods by which they are managed are highlighted in a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, 'Managing virtual teams: taking a more strategic approach', sponsored by NEC The accompanying survey of over 400 executives from around the world found that 78% now work or have worked in a virtual team.

The study shows that the use of virtual teams simply evolved into place at one-half of the organisations polled, rather than being planned for a specific purpose. Just 11% of those polled say that virtual working was primarily implemented to enable flexible working. Only 3% say it was implemented to cut their firm's carbon footprint.

"Virtual teams are absolutely essential to most if not all companies doing business on any sort of global scale," says James Watson, managing editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit. "However, relatively little thought has gone into how best to manage and coordinate these teams."

Managing Director of NEC Philips Unified Solutions Chris de Silva comments, "Given the potential cost and efficiency benefits, coupled with the availability of an increasing number of affordable technologies and services, it is no surprise that virtual working has become a normal and accepted part of the business landscape. In fact, the implications of not embracing or considering virtual working could provide greater risks to an organisation's success."

    Some other key findings include:

    - More than one-half of executives say that their virtual teams
      use video conferencing solutions - one of the most recognised
      collaborative communication solutions - on a regular basis. This rises
      to about two-thirds (64%) for the largest firms (those with annual
      revenue in excess of US$10bn), prompted in part by significant cutbacks
      in corporate travel budgets over the past two years.

    - Virtual teams don't appear to be hindering work-life balance.
      Fully 45% of respondents disagree that virtual working blurs the lines
      between work and life and a further 21% are undecided.

    - Although virtual working offers greater collaborative
      possibilities globally, not everyone is taking full advantage. The
      majority of survey respondents say that virtual team members are
      recruited by local managers (58%), thereby severely curtailing the size
      of the talent pool on which they can draw.

For information from NEC Philips Unified Solutions on managing virtual teams, video conferencing solutions and other collaborative communication solutions, the report Managing virtual teams: taking a more strategic approach is available as a free download from

About the research

Managing virtual teams: taking a more strategic approach is an Economist Intelligence Unit briefing paper, sponsored by NEC. It is based on a survey of 407 European executives from a range of industries, all of whom represented companies with annual revenue of at least US$100m. Of these, 318 respondents currently participate in virtual teams of some kind, or have done so in the past; it is this group's input that informs the trends reported on within this research. The survey was conducted in October and November 2009. The Economist Intelligence Unit also conducted numerous in-depth interviews with executives, industry experts and researchers.

About the Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist Intelligence Unit is the business information arm of The Economist Group, publisher of The Economist. Through our global network of 650 analysts, we continuously assess and forecast political, economic and business conditions in more than 200 countries. As the world's leading provider of country intelligence, we help executives make better business decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies. Follow us on

About NEC Corporation

NEC Corporation is one of the world's leading providers of Internet, broadband network and enterprise business solutions dedicated to meeting the specialized needs of its divers and global base of customers. NEC delivers tailored business solutions, by integrating its technical strengths in IT, Communications and Networks. The NEC group employs more than 150,000 people worldwide. For further information visit the website

    For further information, please contact:

    Clare Granville / Kieran Kent
    The itpr Partnership
    Tel: +44(0)1932-578800
    Fax: +44(0)1932-578801

    Ian Guest
    NEC Philips Unified Solutions
    Tel: +44(0)1223-468241
    Fax: +44(0)1223-468333

SOURCE NEC Philips Unified Solutions