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Implications of Space and Time for Distributed Work Essay

The study conducted by Suprateek Sarker and Sundeep Sahay aims to understand the effects of differences in terms of space and time based on observations done on an information systems development (ISD) project conducted by a virtual team. To accomplish the task, the researchers and coordinators observed several US-Norwegian systems development teams and gathered communication logs from the teams observed, from which they identified both the associated problems and strategies in terms of time and space related issues involved in the function of virtual teams (Sarker and Sahay 7).

In terms of space, the problems identified were difficulties in communication, connection, trust, culture adaptation, and issues related to technology (Sarker and Sahay 8, 11, 13). Of course, there were also various methods identified which were utilized by the members of the virtual teams to compensate for such problems. For one, problems in terms of communication, connection, and trust were minimized through the proper use of a chat program as well as work documentation shown by members (Sarker and Sahay 11).

In terms of cultural differences, the members were able to minimize the conflicts by being culturally sensitive and building rapport (Sarker and Sahay 12). Lastly, problems based on technology related aspects such as differences in skills, language, and infrastructure were dealt with through compromises, alternative methods of representation, and positively taking diversity into context (Sarker and Sahay 14). As mentioned, not only was space taken into consideration in the study but time as well.

In this sense, two general problems associated with time were identified. The first one was that differences in time zones resulted in confusion as well as varying levels of activity and productivity due to the differences in the biological clock of the members; this was addressed through time conversion methods, deciding upon a more efficient time for work, and task allocation (Sarker and Sahay 16). The second obstacle associated with time was that there were conflicts in archiving message logs.

In response to these conflicts, the members utilized a common method of messaging, and some teams even used a single terminal for communication purposes (Sarker and Sahay 17). In general, the study conducted was successful in identifying several challenges and solutions utilized by virtual teams. The researchers, however, have pointed out that the members of the virtual teams in the studies were mainly students. Hence, they may not be a good representation of virtual teams in a corporate sense (Sarker and Sahay 18).

Even so, given the lack of information regarding such details about the functional processes of a virtual team even with a generally praised concept (Sarker and Sahay 3), the findings derived in the study are definitely of importance especially for the further understanding of virtual teams. Work Cited Sarker, Suprateek and Sundeep Sahay. “Implications of Space and Time for Distributed Work: an Interpretative Study of US-Norwegian Systems Development Teams. ” European Journal of Information Systems 13 (2004): 3–20.

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