Source : Wikipedia
A virtual team (also known as a geographically dispersed team or distributed team) is a group of individuals who work across time, space and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technology. Powell, Piccoli and Ives define virtual teams in their literature review article "as groups of geographically, organizationally and/or time dispersed workers brought together by information and telecommunication technologies to accomplish one or more organizational tasks." Ale Ebrahim, N., Ahmed, S. & Taha, Z. in their recent (2009) literature review paper, added two key issues to definition of a virtual team “as small temporary groups of geographically, organizationally and/ or time dispersed knowledge workers who coordinate their work predominantly with electronic information and communication technologies in order to accomplish one or more organization tasks” Members of virtual teams communicate electronically and may never meet face-to-face. Virtual teams are made possible by a proliferation of fiber optic technology that has significantly increased the scope of off-site communication. Virtual teams allow companies to procure the best talent without geographical restrictions. According to Hambley, O’Neil, & Kline (2007), "virtual teams require new ways of working across boundaries through systems, processes, technology, and people, which requires effective leadership...despite the widespread increase in virtual teamwork, there has been relatively little focus on the role of virtual team leaders."
There are three main aspects to a virtual team - purpose, people and links. While purpose is an important aspect for all organizations, it's the most critical aspect for virtual teams; purpose is what holds a virtual team together. Virtual teams do not have hierarchy or any other common structures because they may not be from the same organization, and purpose here brings and holds the team together. Purpose is generally translated into certain action steps for people to work on with a defined structure consisting of common goals, individual tasks and results. A number of factors may impact the performance of members of a virtual team. For example, team members with a higher degree of focused attention and aggregate lower levels of temporal dissociation (or flow ) may have higher performance. Further, members with higher degrees of attention focus may prefer asynchronous communication channels, while those with low levels of flow may prefer synchronous communication channels.
Powell, Piccoli and Ives found and investigated 43 articles about virtual teams and concluded that the current research have found four main focus areas of it.
Read more about Virtual Teams on Wikipedia.