Last week, I was teaching (Deusto Business School) a session about the use and impact of digital platforms on virtual teams. This was an in-company seminar for a multinational firm. We were reviewing digital platforms and technologies for three different functions in a virtual team: sharing information, communicating, and collaborating. I would like to share some recommendations related to different stages and needs of a team working virtually.
First, an interesting discussion emerged related to the use of email for conflict resolution or important conversations. As you may agree, emailing is one of the more important enabler of personal productivity and allows increasing organizational coordination. However, the email is often misused by employees to resolve conflicts. This is a big mistake because of many reasons. This is unproductive and ineffective. Typically, conflict resolution by emails takes longer than a live conversation (long set of back-and-forth emails). There is high probability of making many mistakes because one is unable to read contextual issues and feelings behind the conversation. Finally, and paradoxically, people react immediately to a difficult email instead of taking time to read what is really happening. Hence, live conversation (using phone, face-to-face, or videoconference) is better option than email for difficult and important conversations.