Here are 10 points, written by Dr. John Gundry, on how to build an environment for virtual teams to be able to thrive in.
1. Teaming depends on collaboration, because collaboration entails sharing information, knowledge and views with other people - things we need to do in a team.
2. If we don't trust other people, then we won't readily collaborate with them. It's because of collaboration that trust is so important to teaming.
3. Communication builds trust. Through communicating with people, we calibrate them, we get a better sense of them, and we understand their priorities.
4. In virtual teams whose members haven't had any, or sufficient, opportunity to meet, this calibration needs to happen through electronic communication.
5. So teaming depends on collaboration which depends on trust which is built through communication the best form of which is face to face, but remote electronic communication, if sufficiently rich, is an alternative.
6. The first component of trust is predictability.
7. So we can make judgments that others are predictably good or predictably bad through having communicated enough with them.
8. A fellow work team member is trustworthy if they behave as follows:
- Act in our and the team's best interests
- Be truthful
- Keep their promises or tell us when they can't keep them
- Respect the citation and /or protection of information we send them
- Share mutually-valuable information with us
9. So in virtual teams, where we are consciously and unconsciously working hard to sense the level of trust (predictable trustworthiness) that we can place in our remote fellow members in order that we feel comfortable in collaborating with them, the team leader or the whole team needs to come down hard on - even expel - anyone who behaves in an untrustworthy manner.
10. So in addition to communication, we find that morals are important in sustaining collaboration, and thus performance, in virtual teams.
Gundry, John, "Trust in Virtual Teams". A Working by Wire White Paper from Knowledge Ability Ltd, Malmesbury UK. Published at www.knowab.co.uk/wbwtrust. August 2000.