Virtual workplace

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A virtual workplace is a workplace that is not located in any one physical space. It is usually in a network of several workplaces technologically connected (via a private network or the Internet) without regard to geographic boundaries.

The corporate culture of companies is increasingly influenced by the Internet. In the virtual workplace managers and employees operate remotely from each other. Will the virtual workplace change the corporate norms, communication styles, and behavior of employees?

This is the first of a series of two articles on corporate web culture and the employee perspective (this article) and the customer perspective, forthcoming in Quality and Customer Section.

Managers of virtual employee teams may use the following tools to compensate for the lack of social context, physical proximity, and norms of behavior (Cascio, 2000). Virtual managers should have an open, positive attitude, the ability to delegate effectively, and show a result-oriented management style towards their employees. Managers who need control are unlikely to be effective in the virtual workplace. Managers need effective (in)formal communication skills to interact with employees on a distance.

Companies such as Lotus, IBM and Hewlett-Packard developed employee oriented tools to facilitate the conversion from the real to the virtual workplace.