Different factors and situations dictate whether co-workers should meet virtually or face-to face. In order to ensure an effective outcome, Patterson should evaluate the situation and determine whether a virtual meeting is desirable (Nemiro, Beyerlein & Bradley, 2008). Face to face meetings play a prominent role in organizations and regularly take place both within and across working groups. However, as geographic distribution of workers increase, face-to-face meetings become less frequent. Jensen (2007) says that face-to-face meetings are supplemented with periodic internet meetings to reduce travel costs and time wasted organizing people from different locations.
Communicating with co-workers over the internet allows collaboration between participants by letting them to log on their network and sign in to meetings in which they communicate with each other as well as view, share, and work collaboratively on files (Shelly, Napier & Rivers, 2009). The participants typically communicate with each other using a combination of text, audio, whiteboard, and video. For example, Windows Vista provides a virtual meeting tool, called Windows Meeting Space, which is used to set up a virtual meeting with up to nine participants over a wired or wireless LAN.
The benefits of meeting co-workers over the internet include saving time and money related to travel expenses (Nemiro, Beyerlein & Bradley, 2008). Internet meetings are more convenient than face-to-face meetings. Co-workers find virtual meetings convenient because they can meet virtually from their office or home location instead of waiting around airports to board flights to attend face-to-face meetings. Nemiro, Beyerlein & Bradley (2008) says that virtual classrooms connect geographically distributed team members. This implies that Patterson co-workers can remain in touch at all times during office hours by e-mail, telephone, videophone or instant messaging. In addition, virtual technology has assisted in bringing together team members located all over the globe to generate innovative solutions and products (Nemiro, Beyerlein & Bradley, 2008).
Although internet meetings provide many advantages, they often present challenges as well. Nemiro, Beyerlein & Bradley (2008) noted that frictions due to cultural differences are likely to occur in virtual meetings. For example frictions may occur due to differences in individual work ethic, organizational norms, personal philosophy or status in the organization. This means that co-workers working on international projects must understand and appreciate their teammates’ culture and customs (Nemiro, Beyerlein & Bradley, 2008). Organizations should provide cultural sensitivity training to employees who work and meet virtually with other co-workers.
Virtual meetings result in fatigue and stress due to time differences. Nemiro, Beyerlein & Bradley (2008) says that if team meetings are always held at the same time based on the connivance of a team leader, team members who always are inconvenienced by having to get up early or stay late will become frustrated and disengaged. To overcome this challenge, rotation among co-workers who must attend meetings outside regular work hours must be done to minimize resentment and disruption (Jensen, 2007). For example, organizations should place within the cloud multimedia content that users can access asynchronously at a time that best meets the user’s schedules. This can be achieved for example by using products such as Articulate, or iSpring Presenter to allow companies to record virtual presentations that may be used for virtual meetings (Jamsa, 2012).
Virtual meetings can result to productivity loss due to technology challenges. Nemiro, Beyerlein & Bradley (2008) says that technology challenges may lead to ineffective and unproductive meetings and frustrated team members. Technology based challenges include discomfort with technology, equipment malfunction and task technology mismatch (Jensen, 2007). To overcome these challenges, training or a virtual meeting facilitator can be useful for those new to the virtual world. It is important to ensure that help desk support and other backup plans are carefully outlined and implemented when technology fails. For example, using cloud based tools such as WebEx and GoToMeeting; companies can easily host virtual meetings and overcome the above challenges (Jamsa, 2012).
In conclusion, research shows that future internet meetings can be more effective if the first team meeting is face to face. Co-workers build relationships and trust that set the stage for a successful working relationships. Education and training are necessary to avoid many of frustrations and challenges that accompany virtual team meetings. Training is valuable for helping team members get accustomed to the different requirements that internet meetings brings.