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Chapter 26. When Team Members Are in Rem... > The Virtual Team - Pg. 342

When Team Members Are in Remote Locations 342 Working at Home Isn't for Everyone Be aware of the many potential problems of working at home. One home-based computer pro- grammer complained that her friends and neighbors barged in for friendly chats or to ask her to accept deliveries, be available for service people, and even watch their children. She had to make clear to them that she was an at-home worker, not a lady of leisure. Being assertive cost her some "friends," but it was essential. Another at-home worker soon found that the freedom of working at home, setting his own time schedule, and avoiding rush hour traffic didn't make up for the social life of the workplace. He missed the interaction of daily contact with colleagues, the gossip around the water cooler, and even the daily parrying with his boss. He chose to return to the office. Betty was thrilled when her request to work at home was agreed to. She was a well-disciplined, self- sufficient person and she knew that even with two toddlers at home, she could accomplish a great deal. And she did. Two years later, when her team leader moved up to a higher management position, Betty wasn't even considered for the promotion. When she complained, she was told that the job required being in the home office all of the time and as a telecommuter, she couldn't do it. Betty agreed that being the team leader would mean giving up working at home, but her gripe was that she wasn't even given the opportunity to make the choice. She learned one of the hard lessons of being a telecommuter. FYI "The more enterprises come to rely on people working together without actually working together --that is on people using the new technologies of information--the more important it will become to make sure that they are fully informed." --Peter F. Drucker, management consultant and author Although there are some leadership jobs that can be done by telecommuting, most cannot. Career- oriented people should keep this in mind when opting for working at home. People who work at home one or two days a week are more likely to be considered for promotion than those who work exclusively at home. The Virtual Team The latest trend in team building is the creation of the virtual team. Team members may be scattered all over the world, may never (or rarely) see each other, and communicate primarily by computer- based techniques. As newer, faster, and more powerful processors and software become available, virtual teams may become a major part of global organizations. Sometimes these teams are permanent groups that work together for years. Other teams are cross- functional groups brought together to deal with a specific situation.