The development of teamwork and teams has increased tremendously in all the different types of organizations because of the need to create successful ventures and outcomes in today’s competitive world. A team is group of individuals who have come together to achieve a common purpose. Normally, teams are suitable when performing tasks are highly complex and has several interdependent subtasks. There are various types of teams. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. This paper discusses the benefits and drawbacks of cross- functional teams and virtual teams.
Cross-functional teams are teams that comprise of experts drawn from different specialties who work together on a given organizational task. Cross-functional teams are usually temporary with a lifespan ranging from weeks to several years depending on the task the team is mandated to perform. There are various advantages associated with cross-functional teams in organizations. Firstly, there is increased skill and knowledge. Team members are normally drawn from various professional backgrounds which broadens the skill and knowledge inventory. Secondly, it is easier to coordinate complex projects. Availability of experts from different field makes it simpler to coordinate complex multi-dimensional projects. Lastly, cross-functional teams are able to develop new ideas. Exchange of information by people from diverse backgrounds sparks creativity. There are various drawbacks of cross-functional teams as well. Firstly, they are time consuming. It takes time to build rapport between members from various diverse backgrounds. Secondly, cross-functional teams are prone to conflict. Members of cross-functional teams are from various diverse backgrounds and view things from different prisms. It is difficult to unite these different viewpoints. Lastly, it is difficult to create trust in cross-functional teams. This is because the team members have different perspectives and experiences.
A virtual team comprises of people working interdependently to achieve a common goal across time, space and organizational boundaries with the aid of technology to collaborate and communicate. Virtual teams rarely meet face-to-face because members are located across the entire country or even the world. Members of virtual teams can coordinate virtually using communication technologies such as Wide Area Networks (WANs), emails and video conferencing. There are various advantages accrue from virtual teams. Firstly, virtual teams are cost efficient. By utilizing virtual teams an organization is able to cut on costs associated with real estate, utility bills such as electricity, gas and water, office space and travel related expenses. Adult correctional departments can use the savings to other key priorities that are fund deficient. Secondly, team progress can be monitored more closely. Close monitoring of progress ensures that the team does not deviate from the main goal. Thirdly, use of communication technologies ensures that the team results are publicized to everyone in the organization. Therefore, the team is not rendered invisible. Lastly, virtual teams can accomplish task within a shorter duration. If members of the team are on different time zones, the team can work 24/7. This is so because when one member goes to sleep, another member on a different time zone can begin working from where the former left the task. There are drawbacks of virtual teams as well. Firstly, virtual teams have less social rapport. This is because members have little direct interaction among themselves which is worsened if members have never met before. Secondly, there is the cost of technology. For virtual teams to be successful they must be supported by a multiple, efficient communication technologies. There is no single communication tool that can provide comprehensive support. However, installation and maintenance of these communication tools is costly. Lastly, virtual teams are prone to conflict and lack of trust. Cultural differences between members may lead to conflict and lack of trust which is further compounded by the lack of face-to-face interaction and non-verbal cues.
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