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Distributed Teams to Bridge between Local and Remote Offices

3221 words (13 pages) Essay in Information Technology

18/05/20 Information Technology Reference this

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INTRODUCTION

This essay will evaluate the suggestions by Dan Radigan, how remote offices and distributed teams can be a part of swift glooming culture by building a bridge between local and remote offices and how these advices will be useful for MMM211 virtual team. It will also talk about how firms in present can benefit from the strategy of using remote team, the environment to hold distributed workforce culture, the limitations of remote teams and finally how to overcome them.

A virtual team is also known as partially distributed team, it is a group consisting two or more sub group who are parted geographically (Plotnick, Hiltz & Privman 2016), and they primarily communicate through information and telecommunication technology (Suchan & Hayzak 2001). According to a blog, the virtual event market will reach $18 billion in 2023 from $14 billion in 2018, resulting with a huge potential growth in the industry (McMahon 2018).

According to the article, Dan Radigan supports the idea of distributed teams by stating the benefits, most significant being the boost in productivity level, if the remote teams work around the clock. Well it doesn’t work as easy as it sounds, there are several different drawbacks like managing through different time zones, team up with different development cultures, bonding with everyone when they’re not under the same roof and plan online meetings. Therefore, Dan Radigan advices some strategies how to cover the gap and mitigate the probable matters as well as he believes, these problems are genuine but not unresolvable. The most significant limitations are language barriers, culture differences, different time zones, and different ways to solve a conflict (Bergiel, Bergiel & Balsmeier 2008).  However, according to an article, we can reduce 3 kinds of “distance” by agile practices: geographical, temporal, and sociocultural, as case study shows that the practices can reduce control, communication and coordination problems (Holmström et al. 2006).

The first strategy suggested by Dan is to build a global team network by using a flexible design of software to operate an autonomous remote teams which works efficiently by reducing the amount of interaction to cope up with team members in different geographic location. I am going to stick with the assignment requirements by not evaluating about the software product device. Basically the code review software helps another remote team on different time zone to step in a case of production issue if the team isn’t online.

Secondly, Dan advices that a team member should initially build a strong rapport with their workforce. Rapport is a connection categorized by mutual understanding, agreement, or empathy that eases the communication (Boogaard 2019). The more you get to know the person, more you trust. Building a stronger relationship with your co-workers can help to reduce the misunderstandings between the workforces, lifts morale, and facilitates self management. According to a blog by Kat Boogaard, remote and local offices can share benefits like rise in productivity level, higher employee retention, enhanced job gratification, and higher commitment level (2019). Sometimes the question arises, how to build rapport?

The first step is to be an incisive observer, step back and observe your colleagues, find any common grounds. According to a research, humans are appealed by people who are alike (Montoya, Horton & Kirchner 2008). After finding common grounds, you can’t just sit and talk over the common grounds you have with your colleague mate, ask more questions about them, give them undivided attention, and be more patient.

The most significant communication means is through meeting face to face, but in case of remote offices, workforce member can use social application platforms which includes video calls, and also visit remote offices to build a better rapport. Dan believes that video calls contributes a lot to cover the gap between workforces, especially remote offices. To put this another way, video conferencing can help remote offices to increase their level of engagement in work by allowing them to participate in live polls and quiz, decrease the level of carbon emission and time by reducing the travel duration, cost and distance, globalize as virtual workforces are becoming more of a requirement for businesses in present, and last but not the least, team communicating virtually can’t see the real tension or ease of the scenario but most of the non verbal cues are conveyed e.g. eye contact, facial expressions, arm crossing, reactions, and underlying emotions (McMahon 2018), and according to David (Caldwell 2018) huge face to face meetings results in being ineffective and costly. Interruption level reduced in offices after reduction in face to face meetings (Bergiel, Bergiel & Balsmeier 2008). For example, in 2009 40% of IBM”s global employees worked in virtual teams, the firm noted a saving of $100 million and decrease in office space by 78 million square feet (Kessler 2019).

However, communicating through internet technology is a short time span communication comparing to working within the same office as it limits productivity, for example, asking a question may take more time for a remote workforce comparing to the traditional one because first they have to type in the message and the put in their mail and send it, the receiver will replay the same process in order to answer after going through the mail whereas in traditional you can just meet up face to face and sort the problem in quick time. As virtual teams exist because of its dependency on network issues can also be hurdle at certain times. The most significant factor management should consider while implementing remote teams should be the size of the teams, according to a research report (Bradner, Mark & Hertel 2005), the more the larger remote workforce the worsen social bond between them resulting in inefficiency. I think interacting face to face can not be replaced but issues relating to managing remote teams can mitigate with agile practices as virtual team market helps business globalize.

Thirdly, Dan advices to form a united development culture. To share a mutual developer culture and making work across the globe work at ease, distributed teams need to diminish the tension in establishing up the development environment, clearly elaborate the meaning of done, create plans for filling issue reports, and commune decisions across all geographies.

Distributed teams can reduce the tension by investing their time in making a “getting started” handbook which also includes the personal basic information about the existing team and making sure that the remote teams are working in consistent development environment. For instance, guide book can help save remote teams if new colleagues join the work force, they don’t have to ask any lame questions or do some extra face time calls to build a strong social bond first resulting in time saving. The guideline handbook can also help the team to track down issue. The company should also hire technical support staff and save up capital for research and development in the ICT department in order to retain the technology department (Suchan & Hayzak 2001).

By well defining the term “done”, it will be simple to deal with the competencies and eradicate vagueness from the work.  Each team doesn’t have to be online in order to deal with the issue reports. Workforces will be trained to deal with issues through the starter guideline book relating trouble shooting and bug reports.

Commuting decisions across remote offices will surely help to build a united development culture. Dan also tells, shifting from the traditional culture to remote culture is more intense and difficult. For instance, decisions can be made anytime, while walking in the hallway of the office or in an informal meeting, so you never know. The staff should be aware of each and every decision made by the workforce across the geographical area. According to an article by Suchan & Hayzak (2001), it’s easy to access every small decision made because the conversation is held back in the electronic software. Most of the decision made in traditional offices are made verbally for which the knowledge can’t be manage, organize, and store unlike in remote teams. Technology training is also available for workforce training (Suchan & Hayzak 2001). I think each member recruited for the remote workforce should be skilled in technology beforehand so that the firm saves up both time and cost which are spent on their training.

In addition, Dan recommends to maximize the golden hours. As in photography world, the term “golden hours”-known to be just after or before the sunset and sunrise- in which you can take the best photos. When it comes to remote offices the golden hours are when both distributed and local teams are online at the very same moment, probably the perfect moment for a stand up for workforces that segments between different time zones. Stand up is where a team going offline can pass the baton to the team coming online. He also adds that stand ups via video call as it’s quicker and flexible, so as soon as the meeting finishes everyone can run off to their home. A significant problem can arise when the offices are pretty far apart, making it inconvenient for some of the staff members. Dan recommends to share the duty by revolving the meeting time, rather than imposing all the pressure on a particular team. Hypothetically, if someone has to wake up every now and then at 4 am for their stand up meeting with the other team because of their time difference, they don’t have to anymore as it’s going to be a shared responsibility. The participation level of the workforce should be observed pretty closely because if the workforce is not producing something out of it, which a most probable outcome of workforce stop is focusing on the meetings. To make sure that the efficiency level doesn’t drops, stand ups doesn’t have to be every day, few times in a week is enough.

Last but not the least, Dan claims that every workforce is considered as a remote team in distributed firms. So in order to maintain every team should be skilled enough to communicate properly, form a reliable culture across the geographies. The most operational team is the one who does not only imitate the main office culture but they also acknowledge the fact of improvement. They basically urge to find and share the fruitful actions from all the other remote offices. Cultural difference can create communication issues because of the language barriers (Bergiel, Bergiel & Balsmeier 2008). For instance, English is a universally recognized language but still it’s third most spoken language in the world (Duffin 2019).

For example, IBM started adapted to remote team method back in 2009, now IBM has decided to take a reverse option by completely shifting back to traditional team method because in 2016 the company faced decline of sales due to excessive remote offices (Kessler 2019). I think the firms should use Remote offices as one of their strategy but shouldn’t be solely dependent on it, less the people in the network, more the productivity which results in a better team. According to Adi Gaskell, the key to ideal virtual team:

“The key is having a cohesive team and a limited number of contacts in the communication network” (Gaskell 2017).

Usefulness for MMM211

Personally, being a student who’s enrolled in MMM211 in Deakin University, I feel these pieces of advices can be really useful for us. According to the module description, a student cannot opt this course until unless you aren’t committed to be in touch if with your group mate’s weekly. This article will specifically help us in our assignment 2 where we are instructed to write a report in a virtual team. The group consist of 4 people who are located remotely, we do meetup as a group face to face whenever we meet, with one of us who can’t show up for meetings due to geographical distance. The team efficiency can really increase if we use Dan’s recommendations.

As soon as students are enrolled in groups, we should act on building a team network. We all communicated through mails at first, where my group mate approached me asking for my social media username. We then finally decided to use messenger as a mean of communication as a team.

Then comes the stage where every student should bond socially with their groupmates. Talk to them, get to know them, go out for informal meetups e.g. food or coffee, and then work on assignment. After connecting through social media, I personally started interacting with my group mates on messenger.

For MMM211 students, maximizing the golden hours would consider when students sit down for a video conference call meeting for working on assignment and make sure if everyone is on the same page. Everyone should sum up their queries and bring them up on the video conference call so that we can get rid of any problems and mitigate potential issues rather than just showing up and do my own segmented part.

In order to maintain the efficiency level of the group this article aware us about how members should have the knowledge of how to operate the communication means in order to progress further as a group.

Students can normally face issues like unaware of information provided by group members, someone not contributing even or being unaware of certain decisions. By keeping in mind how every decision or knowledgeable resources will be stored and managed safely in the online communication technology our main focus should be on improving productivity by helping the individual with weak contribution rather than subjecting an individual for their performance.

We should more practice agile acts like have more stand up meetings in a week, have more one to one personal interaction with every group member so that we can eliminate any vague queries before the next stand up. From a student’s perspective, operating as a team virtually, can save us both time and travelling cost making this module an economical one for students. That time and money could be invested in other module assessment preparations or to chill out for a fair time so that you can get back on to the university struggle.

After going through all the researches and articles I’ve concluded that firms should definitely use the strategy of remote offices but shouldn’t be solely dependent on it. There is no question on the succession of remote offices, saving significant time and travel cost for the firms but it comes with some limitations e.g. lack of knowledge about technological sector, lack of commitment for a long term project, and every firm doesn’t fits in the environmental atmosphere of virtual team. Again, the most significant thing to remember is that these issues are all genuine but not unsolvable. Modern problems comes with modern solutions, so if a firm uses the above given recommendations by Dan Radigan, they surely will face some struggle at start but over time if they keep the ‘agile’ practices going on, any firm can find themselves overcoming these issues and mitigating potential problems as well.

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