Flex Work Teams: Defining a Great Team Member

Flex Work culture 2


By Madison Hanscom, PhD

The future of work is here, and it is more flexible than the past. As a result of COVID-19, many individuals are working from home. A recent estimate was that a third of Americans are completing their jobs in a remote capacity. This has major implications for those who work in teams, and this begs the question - what does it take to be a great virtual team member?
Fortunately, researchers have looked into this question. In a study examining what it takes to be a virtual team player, 175 individuals with expertise in virtual teamwork and 205 with traditional teamwork weighed in (1). These individuals rated the importance of the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to be a successful team member.

Overall, the results showed that similar competencies are important for both virtual and traditional teamwork. This is not a surprise! For those of us who have worked in flex/remote teams and traditional teams, a great or a terrible team member might look somewhat similar.

There were some important differences, however. Those with expertise in virtual teams emphasized a greater importance in Leading and Deciding and in Analyzing and Interpreting than those in traditional teams.
• Leading and Deciding: Initiates action, takes responsibility, sets goals, works autonomously
• Analyzing and Interpreting: Clear analytical thinking, quickly takes on new technology, communicates well in writing

Conversely, those with expertise in traditional teams emphasized a greater importance for the Supporting and Cooperating competency, which describes how a team member supports others, puts people first, and acts with integrity.

What were the competencies deemed equally important to both team styles?
• Interacting and Presenting: Communicates and networks effectively, successfully persuades and influences others
• Creating and Conceptualizing: Openness to new ideas and experience, seeks learning opportunities, drives change
• Organizing and Executing: Works thoroughly, plans ahead, follows instructions and procedures
• Adapting and Coping: Adapts and responds well to change, manages pressure effectively
• Enterprising and Performing: Focuses on achieving work objectives, seeks career advancement

At Propulo Consulting, we partner with you to improve the world of work. We are committed to supporting your needs — during these uncertain times, and always. Please visit our website for the latest insights and research into flexible work.

References:
(1) Krumm, S., Kanthak, J., Hartmann, K., & Hertel, G. (2016). What does it take to be a virtual team player? The knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics required in virtual teams.
Human Performance, 29(2), 123-142.