Fifth Generation Work - Virtual Organization

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Blogs   Binghamton University hosts a very interesting and information blog on leading virtually in the digital age and comes highly recommended. Click on LeadingVirtually to visit this blog.  


  The following articles and papers are derived from my research on virtual teams. Some of the material here was included in my doctoral dissertation on Leadership in Virtual Teams.  

Factors Influencing Virtual Teams

  Social Factors. Increasing traffic congestion, air pollution, and parking problems, coupled with many people’s desires to work at home are emerging factors. In addition, many people have difficulty working outside of the home. For example, people who are handicapped or who have childcare / eldercare responsibilities are candidates for telecommuting.

Technology Factors. Advanced technology is rapidly becoming available to support people on an any time, any where basis, and at an affordable cost. Products range from the simple telephone and fax machine to multimedia capable workstations and collaborative software. The communications system will soon provide the capability to transmit full motion video which will enable desktop conferencing. Collaborative software or computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) is a fundamental enabler. CSCW applications were covered in the previous section on information technology.

Business Factors. Businesses can reduce costs by having people telecommute. The demand for buildings and parking spaces can be reduced and therefore costs. People, especially sales people, can spend more time with their customers, instead of commuting to an office and then traveling to customer sites. People can also be recruited who live in different geographical areas who have no desire to relocate. Another business factor is, "the cost of market entry is often smaller than previously thought, especially in the information services and other technology-driven industries, where even under-capitalized startups can have an enormous impact on innovation" (Bleecker, 1994, p. 10). Looking at the trend of globalization, "businesses no longer compete only with their nearest rivals, but internationally" (Bleecker, 1994, p. 10). Finally, the pace of business is changing, especially in computers, communications, and content enterprises. Software products typically have a 12-18 month life, but now Internet browsers are rushed to the marketplace within 6 months, and beta versions are available for testing within two or three months. New hardware products are released every 1 to 2 years.

Government Factors. Both the U.S. Government and State Governments are encouraging businesses and people to explore and adopt telecommuting. It can reduce the demand for new highways and bridges and reduce air pollution. Some companies are already working on this. Raymond W. Smith (1994), CEO of Bell Atlantic, indicated that "at Bell Atlantic, we’ve expanded telecommuting from a trial of 100 managers three years ago to an option for all 16,000 of our management people today–and we’re working with the union to open the option as much as possible to our 50,000 associates (p. 13)."

Last revised:
January 13, 2008
David Gould, Ed.D.
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