To respond efficiently to todays’ globalized world, companies had to create new structures and thus overcome barriers of culture, time, space, etc: The virtual teams needed solutions to collaborate. At the beginning, a lot of companies were seeing Information Systems (IS) like a threat or a due to avoid lagging in the competition. They adopted these digital tools to facilitate procedures, make data sharing easier and storage at the scale of the business but the individuals were often not the priority. They were strategic solutions that often were delaying the procedures at the operational level. These tools have evolved enough to facilitate collaboration.
But what if we had underestimated the power of digital tools? What if they could actually act on team building effectiveness, and could be a HR lever to enhance well-being at work and thus overall performance?
The literature focusing on the qualitative data (performance and management point of view) and the case of remote teams, we decided to integrate management and team members' insights to understand if the use of collaboration tools is correlated with the effectiveness of team building. We decided to extend the results to teams that were not completely virtual, considering that todays’ teams are sometimes principally relying on virtual communication and virtual tools to collaborate even if they have the possibility to work on only one site.
We chose to conduct the research using mixed methods: (1) two online questionnaires (representative sample), where the first one had to be filled by the manager and the second one by the members of the team to be able to cross the results. Through this method, we sought to understand what were the elements influencing the impacts of digital collaboration tools; and (2) interviews of experts (relevant sample). Both were available in French and English.
Over all, this research is trying to put into perspective an alignment between not only hr and strategy as the literature is used to refer to, but an alignment necessary between HR, IS and strategy. Hence the digital tools presented as the crucial element to resolve the historic conflict between strategic and operational/functional levels.
The results showed the tools could be a lever for HR if they were used optimally (i.e. in a framework considering Critical Success Factors. These conditions seem to be specific to a type of culture fostering innovation and employee well-being, because it could necessitate a huge change in individual organization (and thus training) as well as outstanding investments in IS. Research would need to conduct a large-scale experimentation observing the transition as well