To Evaluate the Efficiency and Performance of Virtual Workplaces in SMEs in Lebanon
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Nowadays, virtual teams are tremendously expanding and becoming commonly deployed work structures. The increasing role of information technology in the daily operations of organizations had a direct impact on this expansion. Virtual workplaces and virtual teams are being developed as an expansion or an alternative to the traditional work environments. Additionally, the concept of virtual working environments is increasingly growing within small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) due to numerous factors such as the accessibility of smart-phones, the fast internet connection, and the availability of ready-to-use cloud-based services. These factors are offering employees and managers the flexibility to access their data anywhere, anytime, and using any device. However, many challenges, if not treated correctly, could affect the performance and productivity of virtual teams. Some challenges are related to technology such as the internet speed and restrictions, whereas others are related to the virtual environment such as overworking, lack of social and physical interaction, lack of trust, conflicts, and other factors discussed thoroughly in this research. This research seeks to identify the many challenges that virtual teams based in Lebanese SMEs could encounter, along with the best practices used by managers to overcome them. The study also discusses, from the perspectives of virtual employees and managers, the required managerial competencies that enable virtual managers and leaders cope with the virtual environment’s challenges. The results of the quantitative data analysis, collected from an online questionnaire shared with virtual employees, identified that overworking, lack of trust, and communication difficulties are the most significant challenges virtual employees face while working in a virtual environment. Additionally, the collected results from interviews conducted with virtual managers show that conflict resolution is a critical skill that managers should possess when working virtually. Finally, this research highlights the best practices applied by managers to overcome the identified challenges, along with the guidelines that managers should follow for establishing team milestones and individual objectives.
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