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University of California, Davis

Cross-Cultural Virtual Spaces and Teams

University of California, Davis via Coursera


Airplanes gave us the ability to travel across oceans to visit international team members. But virtual spaces are now bringing us together in an instant. New rules have been written, and as work-from-home is on the rise, re-written, and they bring their own unique cross-cultural challenges. We’ll discuss communication differences unique to text-driven spaces like email and instant message as well as the evolving world of video conferencing. We’ll explore unique cultural challenges brought up by this “new office”, such as the blending of private and public spaces, the “virtual water cooler” of informal virtual communication, and the “time zone dance” done by teams sharing virtual work done while one half is asleep. The future is now. Thanks to technological advances, we have an opportunity to show up, share our cultures, and build creative and innovative pathways to successful multinational teams. Let’s build best practices together in this virtual space and then work together to make them go viral!


  • Getting Started and How Virtual Spaces Change Communication
    • In this module, you will be able to discuss the benefits and challenges of written and verbal communication cues and be able to define how virtual communication has changed modern business communication. You'll be able to discover how people process information in the virtual space and be able to compare and contrast virtual communication with in-person communication. You will be able to specify the differences in virtual written communications versus verbal communication. And finally, you'll be able to evaluate the effectiveness of virtual tolls of communication as substitutes for in-person communications.
  • How Culture Shows Up in Virtual Communication
    • In this module, you will be able to recognize how your identity shows up or does not show up clearly in a virtual space. You will be able to explore how culture plays a role in today's written and verbal communications and be able to look at culture with a wider lens to provide a framework for building your virtual team. You will be able to recognize how our innate biases show up when we can and can not see someone's face and be able to build a safe virtual space what allows all personalities to succeed.
  • Cultural Challenges for Virtual Teams
    • In this module, you will be able to recognize and respond to cultural differences in establishing what is a public and private space within your business team. You will be able to discuss strategies for building personal relationships and empathy with the lack of reality within virtual spaces and be able to examine how formal and informal communication will differ on a virtual team. You will be able to discuss how the concept of linear versus flexible time can impact culture and distinguish between collective versus individual cultures in virtual spaces.
  • New Opportunities for Cross-Cultural Teams
    • In this final module, you will be able to identify the opportunities to improve a multinational, cross-cultural team using virtual spaces. You will be able to recognize and name opportunities to use your own personal culture in a virtual space to cultivate team collaboration. You will also be able to design small acts of leadership, using virtual tools, to inspire cultural connectivity from your team members.

Taught by

Daniel Student and Dr. Cleveland Justis


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