Due to their nature, virtual teams are subject to some specific conflicts that require constructive resolution for the virtual team to be effective. Several issues that could potentially create conflicts on a virtual team will be examined, as will some resources for avoiding these conflicts. The first issue involves scheduling and time commitment. Another cause of conflict that can arise, common to all teams but magnified by the way a virtual team works, is the issue of trust among team members. The third area that will be examined is the potential for misunderstanding and miscommunication that exists when nearly all team contact is via the written word. A look at conflict that can surround the virtual team's decision making processes will follow.
Making virtual teams work is not easy. Relationships can be affected by how team members use and manage their time while completing team objectives. Individuals may feel less obliged to make necessary commitments without the peer pressure of having another team member in front of them.
Individuals on the team may live in different time zones or work different shifts. Relatively routine tasks, such as scheduling a meeting, become complex and fraught with interpersonal friction when one person's workday begins while another is sitting down to dinner or sound asleep. A simple email exchange can generate hard feelings if information that is needed cannot be shared in a timely manner. These issues can lead to conflict. The most common conflict for virtual teams in regards to time management can be characterized as "process conflict" (Snyder, 2003). Process conflict includes disagreements regarding how to do the task, how to delegate resources, and how to share information. Reading a long newsgroup or email thread can be difficult, and many email programs and search engines index mail and...