Teamwork at a Distance: A Qualitative Study on the Teamwork Experiences of Diverse Teams Facing Transformations in Team Dynamics During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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As a precaution against contagion during the COVID-19 pandemic, teleworking arrangements have been expanded, and many employees are working from home. Existing research has focused on ‘what’ the various outcomes of telework are, but ‘why’ these rather ambiguous outcomes occur has often been overlooked. One explanation for the paradoxical outcomes of telework is the neglect of the nature of teamwork, the dynamics of which transform in a telework setting. To examine the experience based on the nature of teamwork, this research addresses how teams that are performing in telework settings as a consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak experience teamwork. This study examined the experiences and perceptions of four teams that have differing task interdependencies and task types. In the shift to telework, they faced transformations in communication and cohesion and, in response, implement maintenance activities to adapt to their work context. The results suggest that teams with a generative or creative nature to teamwork experience major unfavorable effects of the telework context on team effectiveness, while teams that essentially perform information sharing and administrative tasks experience small or even beneficial effects. Expanding on Whillans, Perlow and Turek (2021)’s study, this study reinforces their researched concepts regarding teamwork experiences in telework, but also contributes novel insights into the consequences of transformation in the formalization of communication, the lack of passive information intake through overhearing surrounding conversations, and the difficulties of integrating new team members.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen