Teamwork and ICT
Businesses often ask their employees to complete projects in teams; this has many benefits as it allows the possibility of new friendships, a sense of group accomplishment and a distribution of responsibilities (Gluck 2011). There is no denying that a fundamental component for creating a successful team is good communication. Without good communication, teamwork is impossible (Scott, 1953). A lack of good communication can cause tension and anxiety in a team, which can affect the business as teams may miss project deadlines and be slow in solving problems. Building strong teams in a work place can increase productivity and morale (Gluck, 2011).
The increasing flow of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has allowed teams to connect and interact more efficiently. ICT primarily refers to different communication technologies such as the Internet, wireless networks, mobile phones and other mediums of communication (Tech Terms, 2010). The ICT sector includes some outstanding entrepreneurs that have impacted the everyday lives of their customers and how teams within businesses interact. The spirit and drive of these entrepreneurs and their willingness to take risks has been a major contributor to the speed in which the ICT industry has evolved.
The evolution of ICT has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. ICT is described as either detrimental to teamwork, beneficial to teamwork or both (Andriessen, 2003; Grudin, 1994; Hiltz & Turoff, 1993). Computers, emails and instant messaging systems are now just part of everyday norms that allows teams to communicate and share ideas and information. However, before all of these systems were in place, teams would communicate through letters or with expensive telephone calls. If somebody within the team was looking for information, they would have to go to the library as there were no search engines available 30 years ago.
How ICT has impacted teamwork
McLoughlin and Luca (2002) suggest that ICT has created cost effective and efficient communication methods for teams. Technologies created by companies such as Apple have allowed Global Virtual Teams (GVTs) to become a reality in how we do business today. Teams are now able to correspond through text message and email from anywhere in the world. Computer-mediated tools, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, can create a platform for effective team discussions and presentations (Turoff et al, 2006). With software such as Skype this has allowed video conferencing and team meetings to take place while being in different countries. Video conferencing technology keeps costs to a minimum, as it means team members do not need to be present in the same room, saving on travelling costs and time. This increases productivity within that team and allows businesses to become more profitable (Correia, 2009).
However, a negative implication technology can have on teams is they may become too reliant on software. For example, team members may send each other emails when they are within walking distance from one another (Correia, 2009). Handy (1995) suggests that in order for good teamwork, a team needs trust and he believed trust requires face-to-face interaction or ‘physical touch’ such as a handshake. Other researchers have noted that GVTs frequently ‘characterise low individual commitment, role ambiguity and absenteeism’ (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999). In order to achieve successful teamwork, businesses must ensure there is a balance of when technology should and should not be used for completing certain tasks.
As the business environment is becoming more competitive, organizations are now relying more on outsourcing labour. By using foreign-based subcontracted labour this enables businesses to lower the costs on its business operations (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999). Outsourcing labour has meant teams must operate efficiently with only ICT. Outsourcing has also created what Singer (2012) describes as a ‘one...
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