So from this week I and my colleagues on the MA Technical Communications and e-Learning course at the University of Limerick are to undertake a collaborative documentation project. In essence, the assignment comprises a virtual team exercise between the University of Limerick, the University of Central Florida and Université Paris Diderot. I must confess that this particular assignment is a challenge that I am eager to experience. Bare with me, I’m no martyr! Having discussed this assignment with graduates of this course I have come to realise what an opportunity this exercise actually presents. Virtual teams, remote teams, geographically dispersed teams, whatever designation you decide upon, are rapidly becoming the norm in the modern workplace. Enhancements in the areas of telecommunications and information technology coupled with the need for flexible work arrangements over geographically disparate locations have pushed the boundaries of what is meant by the workplace. This course is one of the very few in the world to expose its students to the virtual workforce whilst enabling them to critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of the virtual team paradigm.
Last year, as part of this course, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview a senior software engineer with H.I.D Global in Galway. For the uninitiated, the H.I.D site in Inverrin, Co. Galway encrypts and provisions profiling data for use in the Irish passport document. Chief amongst the responsibilities of a senior software engineer at H.I.D is effective engagement in remote or virtual teamwork. Using packages such as Confluence and Jira by Atlassian, Virtual Studio by Microsoft and the humble Skype the H.I.D team works with colleagues across the world and across time-zones to deliver on deadlines. That interview has underpinned my enthusiasm for the virtual team element of this course. Assuming that I don’t cause any international incidents, it should be a worthwhile experience. I’ll let you know!