Definition History Types of Virtual Workplaces Virtual Workplace Communication Tools...
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- Definition History Types of Virtual Workplaces Virtual Workplace Communication Tools Online Collaboration Benefits of Virtual Workplaces Challenges of Virtual Workplaces
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- A virtual workplace is a workplace that is not located in any one physical space. Rather, several workplaces are technologically connected (via the Internet) without regard to geographic boundaries. A virtual workplace decreases unnecessary costs by integrating technology processes, people processes, and online processes.
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- With information technology playing a greater role in the daily operations of organizations today, virtual workplaces are beginning to replace the traditional office environment of cubicles and office buildings. International organizations have seen a significant increase in business in the past decade due to the globalization and widespread use of technology. By 2008, it is estimated that 41 million corporate employees worldwide will work at least one day per week virtually. As well, 65% of virtual team members have said they have never been involved in an effective team-building meeting, and 36% of the team members had never met their coworkers face-to-face.
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- Individual virtual workplaces vary in how they apply existing technology to facilitate team cooperation. Three popular approaches are: 1. Telecommuting : the availability and use of communications technologies, such as the internet, to work in an offsite location.
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- 2. Hot desk environment: Employees are not given individual desks; rather each day employees are allocated to a desk where they can access the internet, email and computer network files. This is similar to hotelling: recognizing that employees spend more time at the clients' office rather than at the employer's office, employees are not assigned a permanent desk.
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- 3. Virtual team: the collaboration of employees working closely together and in constant contact but are physically located in different parts of the world.
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- Common communication tools when working virtually: Conference Calls NetMeeting WebEx VPN Skype TelePresence MPK20
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- Calls made between multiple parties: Phone calls out on multiple lines Conference line allows multiple parties to call in Methods of conference calling: Audio- Speaker phone allows everyone present to participate in a single call Video- Digital transmission allows video and audio interaction Web- Network used when desktop applications are the same on both ends, often for showing products to clients
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- Uses the internet to create teleconference groups Allows users to interact in real time over the internet including: Chat client Audio and video conferencing client A digital whiteboard or shared drawing space Application sharing with other conference members File share and transfer applications
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- Requires a computer with Internet Explorer and software such as Windows XP Requires a headset with microphone or a conference bridge for audio conferences Requires specific Netmeeting software
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- Provides the ability to hold online meetings, web and videoconferencing Provides file, program and email access from laptop, desktop or mobile phones Connects participants with services whether at work, home or out of the central office Requires software download and creation of a login id/password
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- Utilizes a private computer data network that uses a public network (like the Internet) Connects your computer to company from any location Lowers company costs by using a shared public infrastructure rather than a private one Requires user name and password
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- Figure.1: VPN connecting Central Office with other Co-workers in different locations
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- Social networking software for making calls over the internet: Allows users to make calls by cell phones or land lines anywhere in the world Enables instant messaging, file transfer, video conferencing, online chat Provides book marking to track chat sessions or keep open forums Allows voice mail messages, taking calls when busy or offline Requires software download, email id and password
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- Figure.2: Video and Audio conference via. Skype
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- Refers to a set of technologies allowing a person to feel as if they were present, at a location other than their own location Transmits the user's position, movements, and voice to the remote location Enables the same transfer for both ends, allowing dialogue Delivers an 'in person' experience, allowing meetings without travelling
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- Requires no training to conduct meetings via TelePresence Requires good lighting and screens installed with speakers
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- Figure.3: People working via TelePresence
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- Creates a 3D virtual environment to enhance business or educational collaboration Allows natural voice communication for meetings Allows document sharing Maintains and builds community without the constraints of location Enables conversation, music or videos sharing in similar fashion to being in the same room
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- Enables sharing of designs, developments and information without personal meetings or travelling Includes team discussions, polls, lists, calendaring, access control, notifications Connects people sharing common interest or objectives
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- Common methods for online collaboration: E-mail IM (Instant Messaging) Social Networking Blogs Intranet
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- Writes, sends and receives messages/files over electronic communication systems Provides an extensive written record of activities Requires only a login id and password, for access Sometimes leads to misinterpretation or misunderstanding of intended message
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- Exchanges text-based communications between two or more parties through Internet Acts as a real-time conversation tool, like a chat room Utilizes web-cams for visual interaction in most IM programs Saves contact details in online address book Sends and receives voice mails and file transfers
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- Requires only a login id and password for access Creates problems for productivity, as employees might use it as a social tool Creates problems for company privacy protocols
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- Creates online communities using websites Creates social and discussion groups for internet users. For example Orkut and Yahoogroups Allows sharing of messages, photo/photo albums, group event calendars, and shared web links Requires email id and password for access
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- Creates a space for posting thoughts and interacting with commentary by using a website or online journal Allows entries to be linked and cross- linked among members Provides a framework for workplace social networks and communication Allows sharing or presenting ideas and data without having to call a meeting
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- Refers to a private version of the Internet, established for a distinct user group or company Provides a single, secure, reliable access to company information Promotes the sharing of knowledge and ideas among employees Keeps data safe from outside scrutiny Provides access to corporate library holdings and archives Allows conferences between company departments in multinational offices
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- There are many challenges associated with the implementation of virtual workplaces, and if not carefully analyzed, organizations can be threatened by not fully realizing the enormous benefits that can be achieved through virtual workplaces. Some common challenges are: 1. Failure to leverage the technology that supports virtual workplaces resulting in decrease in productivity 2. Lack of human contact could cause decreased team spirit, trust and productivity 3. Increased sensitivity to communication, interpersonal and cultural factors All of these challenges can be overcome by recognizing the issue and finding the appropriate solution.
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- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_workplace Tools for Virtual Teams; by Jane E. Henry and Meg Hartzler Figure.1- computer.howstuffworks.com/vpn.htm Figure.2: pages.ebay.com/skype/ Figure.2- mail.google.com/videochat Figure.3- www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps7060/index.html