Managing team conflict in virtual teams is similar to face-to-face or physical settings – because of misunderstandings, wrong assumptions, hurt feelings, and a lack of communication. Conflicts, even minor ones, need to be addressed early or they tend to spiral out of control, especially in the virtual environment.
But because of the nature of virtual teamwork and the technology we rely on to communicate, such as email and other mediums where we don’t get the added benefits of body language, tone, and other environmental cues, virtual settings have more potential pitfalls that put them at risk for possible conflict and misunderstanding.
The lack of structure compared with the traditional workplace creates many more opportunities for misunderstandings, inconsistencies, communication barriers, and ways to fly under the radar. Managerial oversight is spread thin, and members from different cultures who may speak other languages work in complex situations. Unfortunately, the conditions for conflict in virtual teams to arise appear all too easily.