"The New Normal" - Leading and Managing Teams in Virtual Contexts: A Case Study on Technology Companies in Europe

Georgina Hope Sczepan & Pétur Sigurðsson

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis discusses how team leaders in the technology industry understand their function within and shall adapt to the growing virtual work environment, whereby work-life balance is becoming a greater focus. The research will be illustrated in a cross-sectional case study on Google, Microsoft and Salesforce. It includes a thorough literature review on leadership, management and work-life balance theories and their relation to a virtual work environment. Knowledge was gained using mixed methods, gathering data mainly through semi-structured in-depth interviews, with team leaders within the three case companies and experts in the field of technology and virtual leadership, along with the collection of secondary data. Finally, we identify key factors that will serve team leaders in the technology industry as guidelines to successfully execute their role in a virtual environment. We outline 3 key factors that deserve a growing focus by team leaders: (1) develop a strong emotional intelligence, (2) fostering a psychologically safe environment among the team and (3) co-create the Remote Work Framework. Firstly, strengthening emotional intelligence entails six separate skills, being the ability to regulate ones’ own emotions, being self-aware of own strengths and weaknesses, showing motivation, being empathetic towards team members, the ability to socially engage with the team and build trust. Secondly, to allow the team leader to use the emotional intelligence, in order to extract social cues better online, it is vital to establish a psychologically safe environment, where team members feel comfortable to voice concerns, questions or ideas without fearing vulnerability. Thirdly, we present a Remote Work Framework, answering the questions: what, where, how and when. This framework shall guide team leaders in practical terms to align their virtual team on working patterns and communication, in order to foster team coordination.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages135