Teams and technology
By eroding geographical boundaries, technology has allowed companies to form teams based first and foremost on the skills and experience of the members, rather than physical proximity.
Among our respondents, 65% say that the extent to which teams are facilitated by technology rather than face-to-face interaction has increased over the past three years.
Emerging technologies can also help companies to find where that talent lies. The rise of HR analytics gives companies a much better opportunity to map their talent assets globally and understand where pools of expertise lie across the business.
“Technology is not just about making sure that everybody is informed about what’s happening in the company, it’s also about maintaining performance standards and making sure that you deliver against pre-agreed targets in a consistent way.”
— Dawid Louw, HR Director for Europe,
Middle East and Africa at AstraZeneca
Over-reliance on technology?
Boundary-less teams are not without their challenges. Technology can only go so far in building rapport between dispersed team members. It is striking that, when respondents were asked about methods of communication they find most valuable, face-to-face is the clear leader.
The importance of face-to-face meetings, particularly in diverse teams, highlights the danger of an over-reliance on technology. There is a risk that a gap starts to open up between a need for more direct communication and the extent to which these tools can offer teams the level of personal interaction they need.
A challenging economic environment compounds this problem because many companies have cut back on business travel. They may see tools, like telepresence, as an equivalent replacement.
Which of the following are seen as the most valuable ways in which teams in your organization interact with each other?
Other aspects of technology can also be an enabler – or barrier – of team performance. A company that has a fragmented IT infrastructure, and different applications and datasets for different functions or business units, will find it more difficult to form effective cross-functional and geographically distributed teams.