INVOLUNTARY E-COLLABORATION AS EXPERIENCED BY TEAM MEMBERS - A qualitative study of white-collar dispersed teams during the crisis of COVID-19
Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to explore how team members have experienced their collaboration regarding the shift from the previously-known-as-normal office-conducted work, to the COVID-19-induced remote work. Theory: This study is mainly based upon Relational Coordination Theory, since it provides a good foundation for understanding coordinating mechanisms in team collaboration. Additionally, the Integrative Model of Group Development is applied as a complement in order to give an understanding of the different group phases the teams in this study operate within. Method: This study was conducted with qualitative research methodology, using empirical data from semi-structured interviews with eleven informants from a case company. Results: The study concluded that chat and email have become the substitute for previous face-to-face communication, replacing the valuable tool of ‘cross-talk’ and face-to-face discussions on-site. The increase of meetings since the shift to remote work has led to decreased possibility to reach other team members, and thereby caused some stress among employees. The factor of creating strong internal relations within teams in order to achieve joint goals, trust and mutual respect was confirmed important for remote collaboration. To create and maintain social relationships proved somewhat difficult for new members, communicating using only information communication technologies (ICTs) with their new team. There were few conflicts within the interviewed teams, partly due to them having established strong internal relations when co-located. Coordination issues instead stemmed from difficulties in the non-existent ‘cross-talk’ and other face-to-face communication, during e-collaboration. Lastly, some form of future hybrid model for remote- and co-located work is desired by the informants post-pandemic, proving that remote work has been experienced as both favorable and unfavorable.