This last week I have been doing a little informal research as to what people think of when they picture a virtual workplace. Here are some of the top three answers I heard:
1. Someone who works on their computer but never goes to a real office.
2. Companies like eBay, that you can only find on the Internet.
3. Home offices.
So, what exactly is a virtual workplace?
Wayne F. Cascio of University of Colorado wrote an article entitled, "The Virtual Workplace: A Reality Now." In his article he has a great definition. Here is his opening paragraph:
"Consider the new paradigm of workÂanytime, anywhere, in real space or in cyberspace. For many employers the virtual workplace, in which employees operate remotely from each other and from managers, is a reality now, and all indications are that it will become even more prevalent in the future. In and of itself, this represents a dramatic change in how we work, and it presents new challenges for our profession. The challenges stem from the physical separation of workers and managers wrought by such information-age arrangements as telecommuting and virtual teams. "How can I manage them if I canÂt see them?" is a question that many managers ask."
Here are some terms to become familiar with in the world of virtual business:
1. Telecommuting - defined as the use of telecommunication to work outside the traditional office or workplace, usually at home or in a mobile situation.
According to one study, telecommuting has been growing at 15% a year since 1990 in North America. 80% of Fortune 1000 companies are likely to introduce it within the next two to three years. Although work at the company premises is not likely to disappear, new forms of telecommunication such as voice and picture communication and groupware are likely to make telecommuting more social in the future.
2. Telecenters - a facility that offers community members the ability to use ICTs in a publicly shared manner. Telecenters often provide the only connectivity available to many community members, and their services may be offered with or without a fee.
3. "Hot-desking" - refers to the temporary physical occupation of a work station or surface by a particular employee. This work surface could be an actual desk or just a terminal link. In any event the concept of the hot desk is that the employer furnishes a permanent work surface which is available to any worker as and when needed. There is no personal domain pertaining to a particular worker and physical facilities are employed as and when needed.
4. "Hoteling" - Refers to a company in which employees don't have traditional office space in a building but instead work from home or the road and reserve conference rooms or offices at a building, usually the company's headquarters, when they need to meet with clients, colleagues, or their departments.
5. Virtual teams - a group of individuals who work across time, space, and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technology. They have complementary skills and are committed to a common purpose, have interdependent performance goals, and share an approach to work for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.
Over the next few weeks I know I will be learning more and more about this world of virtual business - learning more and partaking more in it. And as I learn I will share it here with each of you who take the time to stop in and spend some "Time with Tami."