Types of Teams

Project Team

Project teams, or temporary work teams, are becoming very popular because they draw on people with different areas of expertise from different departments in an organization. These teams are assembled to accomplish time-constrained tasks and are also becoming frequent in the fast-paced business environment (Kozlowski & Bell, 2012; Savelsbergh, Poell, & van der Heijden, 2015). For example, a new product development team may consist of professionals who specialize in technology, design, marketing, operations, customer service, etc., and each of them is expected to contribute his or her unique expertise. In an academic setting, these teams may comprise people from different disciplines working together.

Long-term or Stable

In this situation the team is assembled and work is brought to the team. Instead of a team being assembled for a one-off project, the stable team is designed to work on a continuous array of projects. Members may rotate off after a while giving management the opportunity to insert new members. This helps to create fresh ideas.

Virtual Team

You can be part of a team even if you’re not in the same, room, city, state, or even country as another person. Virtual teamwork is a desired skill.

Team holding hands
Rawlings and Downing (2017) write: “Participating in virtual teamwork during the college experience provides students an opportunity to develop a skill set that employers routinely seek… almost two-thirds of U.S. organizations [integrate] virtual teams within their operating practice” (p. 117).

How is a virtual team defined?

According to Mackay and Fisher (n.d.), “a virtual team requires minimal face-to-face physical interaction and is often scattered physically using telecommunications-based technologies (such as email, Skype, web conferencing, etc.)”

Rawlings and Downing (2017) define virtual teams as “teams whose members use technology to varying degrees in working across locational, temporal, and relational boundaries to accomplish an interdependent task” (p. 116).

The diagram below is a good illustration of how a virtual team might be organized. Everyone is connected either through software like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or some other application, so they are able to work closely together even though geographically they are in many different places.

A map of the United States that shows 7 team members in different states. All of the members are connected to the team leader and at least one other member.
Figure 9.1

You can practice virtual teamwork while you’re in school and it can be a skill that you can highlight on your resume and in an interview with an employer. The key is not just being part of a virtual team, but gaining an understanding of the benefits and challenges while going through the process.

As you’re working with others, think about what works and what doesn’t. In thinking about what doesn’t work, think about how it could be better; if you had the authority what would you try and do to change things? Being able to communicate these things to a future employer will go a long way to show them that you have initiative and are someone who wants to be part of a solution.


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Teamwork: An Open Access Practical Guide Copyright © 2020 by Andrew M. Clark; Lolin Martins-Crane; Mengqi Zhan; and Justin Dellinger T. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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