In varying degrees, most of us are working virtually in teams undertaking our engineering work. From use of email to Skype and sometimes, web and video conferencing; we are all moving to working together with colleagues and friends at far flung locations connected only over the Internet.

 

Dear Colleagues,

In varying degrees, most of us are working virtually in teams undertaking our engineering work. From use of email to Skype and sometimes, web and video conferencing; we are all moving to working together with colleagues and friends at far flung locations connected only over the Internet. You might be working in a virtual team building a plant, a mine or designing a new electronic controller. Your team members may only be across town. You may only form a virtual team for a few hours whilst troubleshooting a problem with a vendor or client. We all love and hate the virtual teams we work in. It is often hard to get the other team members to pull their weight and collaborate effectively.

Technically, a virtual team requires little face-to-face interaction and is scattered throughout the world with its members communicating through the Internet intermittently and often not simultaneously (or asynchronously).

Building trust
One major challenge is building up trust in an online environment with team members perhaps from different cultural and national backgrounds to yours and some suggestions to get your team off to a strong start are as follows:

  • Communicate openly and frequently
  • To receive trust; give trust
  • Be frank, open and honest
  • Demonstrate strong business ethics
  • Do what you say you will do
  • Be consistent and predictable
  • Set the right tone in the beginning to support future interaction
  • Be accessible and responsive
  • Keep confidentiality
  • Create some social time as well

A piece of advice relevant to us working in the various specialist engineering activities today, from Sidney J. Harris: Never take the advice of someone who has not had your kind of trouble.

Yours in engineering learning,

 Steve

Mackay’s Musings – 10th February’15 #551
125, 273 readers – www.idc-online.com/blogs/stevemackay

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