NEW YORK, May 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In today's complex, global environment, it's hard to imagine work without interdisciplinary, virtual teams. What is surprising is that half of those teams include members from other cultures, a further indication of how global business is becoming. According to the 2016 Trends in Global Virtual Teams conducted by RW³ CultureWizard, 1,372 respondents from 80 countries said that 85% of corporate employees serve on such global virtual teams, and almost 20% spend over half of their day interacting with these teams!
According to Charlene Solomon, President of RW3 CultureWizard, "Almost everyone who works in global business is on a virtual team and 85% of them say it is critical to their productivity." She says, "These teams confront unique challenges because the lack of face-to-face contact magnifies and intensifies the impact of cultural differences between team members."
The lack of face-to-face contact makes it very difficult: to understand communication (51%), to manage conflict (51%), and to establish trust and build relationships (45%).
"What makes these challenges particularly acute is that most people are unprepared for them," says Michael S. Schell, CEO of RW3 CultureWizard. "Organizations large and small continue to make the erroneous assumption that virtual teamwork comes easy because of cutting edge communication technology. Only 22% of virtual team members receive any training to prepare them to be effective on an intercultural team. Surprisingly, this is an increase of only 1% over the 2014 survey results."
He continues, "The total economic impact on productivity represented by these virtual team challenges is incalculable, but obviously significant, and relatively simple to improve."
Solomon points out that leadership is also a critical issue. "In our survey, 58% of team participants felt that half of their leaders were not adequately prepared for their role." She continues, "The leadership skills that work domestically, often break down when applied to multicultural virtual teams, where leaders need to anticipate how their leadership style affects people from diverse places."
Some of the survey's key findings are:
- 85% of respondents say that virtual team work is extremely or somewhat critical to their job
- 22% work on at least four virtual teams.
- Almost 20% of respondents spend over half of the day interacting on virtual teams
- Only 22% of respondents received training to increase their productivity on virtual teams
- Almost half (48%) of respondents report that over half of their virtual teams include members from diverse cultural backgrounds
- Almost one quarter (23%) of say their virtual teams fail to capitalize on their cultural diversity
- 41% report that their teams never meet in person, 28% once a year, 31% at least twice a year
- The following were cited as some of the biggest challenges for global virtual teamwork:
- Colleagues who do not participate (79%)
- Pace of decision making (79%)
- Time required to make decisions (75%)
- Different expectations for how to manage and for how to be managed (74%)
- Follow-through of team members (74%)
- Lack of face-to-face contact has the greatest impact on productivity in the following areas: understanding the full context of what people communicate (51%), managing conflict (48%), and establishing trust and building relationships (45%).
RW³ CultureWizard is the leading intercultural global business skill consultancy, specializing in business skill development for corporate employees. Specializing in blended solutions that combine its CultureWizard online learning platform with facilitated learning experiences. Founded in 2001, RW³ CultureWizard offers over 30 years of experience fusing self-guided learning technologies with intercultural wisdom to develop global business skills for leaders, teams, individual contributors and international assignees all over the world.
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SOURCE RW-3 CultureWizard