Digital Transformation and Virtual Team Transition due to the COVID-19 Pandemic : An Empirical Study on Virtual Teams within Organizational Change Management

University essay from Jönköping University/IHH, ESOL (Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Organization, Leadership); Jönköping University/IHH, ESOL (Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Organization, Leadership)

Abstract: Abstract Background:  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic a series of regulations and recommendations were imposed. This resulted in firms transitioning their co-located teams into virtual teams in an effort to slow down and prevent the spread of COVID-19. This research focuses on the individual team member’s experience of the transition. The transition is a digital transformation and organizational change and its effects on the individual team member is being studied.  Purpose:  The purpose of this research study is to explore how individual team members experience the transition from a co-located team into a virtual team. Trust, communication and social interactions are previously known challenges for virtual teams. Therefore, we strive to explore how these aspects have been affected by the transition and how the individual team member has experienced it.  Method:  This study follows a qualitative research design and the method of choice is semi-structured interviews that have been carried out in a virtual environment due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Eleven interviewees have contributed to the empirical study. The main findings are presented in chapter 4 and analyzed against existing literature in chapter 5, to finally be concluded in chapter 6.  Conclusion:  Trust has previously been listed as a major challenge for virtual teams. However, our empirical findings have not identified trust as a major challenge and therefore contradict this. Communication has changed and the biggest two contributors to this is that the communication is digital and that body language becomes less effective in a virtual setting as compared to face-to-face communication. However, communication has not been a major issue during the transition but rather a complication. Social interactions were identified as the aspect affecting the team members the hardest since they had become non-existent except for in the virtual environment in many cases. A high level of digital maturity and the teams previously being co-located is seen to have made the transitions easier in terms of trust and communication. Furthermore, team members struggle to find their work life balance and often work more hours. 

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