Nowadays work is becoming predominantly distributed, bringing significant challenges to effective communication of geographically dispersed groups. In fact, multisite work presents considerable loss of opportunities for rich interaction and a very substantial reduction in frequency of both formal and informal communication between coworkers. While communicating face-to-face (F2F) by speech is easy for individuals, conducting a long-running, productive conversation through the digital medium is difficult, especially as the group size increases. The difficulty of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and collaboration stands in stark contrast to our natural ability to easily communicate and collaborate with one another in the physical world. As such, there is a need to further our understanding of the effectiveness of the many available synchronous and asynchronous communication media (e.g., e-mail, videoconferencing, or specialized collaboration tools) to support activities of distributed teams. However, not only media properties (e.g., synchronicity) affect the performance of groups collaborating from a distance but also the characteristics of groups (e.g., size, history) and tasks (e.g., idea generation, decision making) play a key role. In this chapter, we first present a survey on the group-, task-, and media-related theories that are relevant for the selection of the most appropriate synchronous communication media to better support distributed ad hoc groups, that is, short-term groups with neither a history of previous collaborations nor expectation of future ones. Then, we consistently combine all the reviewed theories to create two general models that, respectively, can help researchers to manage the context of experiments on remote group collaboration, and distributed groups themselves to evaluate, compare, and select the most appropriate fits between the task at a hand and the media available.
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