Article:

The five main causes of conflict in distributed teams – and how to manage them

Written by Gihan Perera Tuesday 05 October 2021
In a distributed, virtual team, your members could be working in different locations, or even time zones, possibly with different languages and cultures too. These situations are going to happen more often. It's vital you know how to deal with them.
Woman working on a laptop, worn out and struggling with a problem

Distributed, virtual teams don’t have the same personal rapport as in-office teams; they only collaborate using digital tools, and they might feel isolated and alone. All of this means you must take even more care to manage conflict when it arises. The most important step is to identify the cause of the conflict, so you can choose your role.

Broadly, there are five causes of conflict:

  1. Information: Something was missing, incomplete or ambiguous.
  2. Environment: Something in the environment leads to the conflict.
  3. Skills: People lack the appropriate skills for doing their work.
  4. Values: A clash of personal values leads to conflict.
  5. Identity: The participants' sense of identity puts them at odds with each other.
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