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Virtual Worker versus the Traditional Worker?

1. With so much information available, is there a difference in how much information needs to be provided to the virtual worker versus the traditional worker? If so, explain how.

2. Are there differences in the kinds of information needed by the virtual worker versus the traditional worker? How about in your workplace? If so, explain.

3. Where is the best place to deliver information to the people who need it? Should the information always go to the receiver, or are there times when it would be better for the receiver to come to the source of the information (what is an example of the times)?

4. How fast should information be disseminated? Is the fastest means always the best? Should all recipients receive information at the same time? How do global factors, such as time zones, figure in the speed with which information should be dispersed?

Solution Preview

Hi,

Excellent questions! Let's take a closer look! I also attached a relevant article for further reading, some of which this response is drawn.

RESPONSE:

1. With so much information available, is there a difference in how much information needs to be provided to the virtual worker versus the traditional worker? If so, explain how.

Yes, there is a difference in how much information needs to be provided to the virtual worker, to make sure that there is no miscommunication of what needs to done. For example, managers need to provide more written information via e-mail, for example, making sure that the information is communicated in a clear, concise manner to the virtual worker, and the manager also needs to be a good listener. It often takes more information in written information to communicate something than face-to-face, because the non-verbal cues are absent. However, for other information, charts, reports, etc. the information will be the same, but explaining the information and what to do with the information involves a lengthy process. Also, pre-set time schedules are very important so information delays or miscommunication does not delay projects.

2. Are there differences in the kinds of information needed by the virtual worker versus the traditional worker? How about in your workplace? If so, explain.

In part, it depends on the type of virtual worker. A significant difference between traditional and virtual management is in the way a manager communicates information to/with team members. "Experts agree that 80 percent of communication is non-verbal. The lack of visual contact with virtual worker(s) requires the manager to adapt his or her communication style and methods to fill the gap left by the absence of non-verbal communication such as body language and eye contact. When communicating virtually it is much easier for misunderstandings to arise so the ability to listen, understand and validate what is being heard is essential. The manager has to rely on subtle changes in tone of voice that signify the speaker's emotions rather than being able to see the person's reaction in their body language as in a face-to-face communication" (http://www.itbusinessedge.com/item/?ci=23065).

How about in your workplace? How does this work?

3. Where is the best place to deliver information to the people who need it? Should the information always go to the receiver, or are there times when it would be better for the receiver to come to the source of the information (what is an example of the times)?

For a virtual worker or virtual teams there is a lower-than-normal ration of pushed to pulled information. Virtual worker or team communication is prioritized by the sender. In fact, these are part of the critical success factors for virtual terms, together with the following factors:

The existence of availability standards.
Ample resources to buy and support state-of-the-art reliable communication and collaboration tools for all team members.
The existence of corporate memory systems such as lessons learned databases.
The existence of written goals, objectives, project specifications, and performance metrics; results orientation.
Managers and team members with a better-than-average ability to accurately ...

Solution Summary

This solution compares the virtual worker and the traditional worker on several dimensions e.g. amount of information provided, types of information, who receives the information, the speed of dissemination of information, global factors, etc. Supplemented with a highly informative article on characteristics of virtual teams.

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