Handbook of Research on Virtual Workplaces and the New Nature of Business Practices

Handbook of Research on Virtual Workplaces and the New Nature of Business Practices

Pavel Zemliansky (James Madison University, USA) and Kirk St.Amant (East Carolina University, USA)
Release Date: April, 2008|Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 768
ISBN13: 9781599048932|ISBN10: 1599048930|EISBN13: 9781599048949|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-893-2


At one time, the office was a physical place, and employees congregated in the same location to work together on projects. The advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, however, not only made the unthinkable possible, it forever changed the way persons view both the office and work.

The Handbook of Research on Virtual Workplaces and the New Nature of Business Practices compiles authoritative research from 51 scholars from 17 countries, covering the issues surrounding the influx of information technology to the office environment, from choice and effective use of technologies to necessary participants in the virtual workplace.

Topics Covered

The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Business process modeling
  • Collaborative information technologies
  • Computer-Mediated Communication
  • Cultural implications
  • Digital Divide
  • Distance internships
  • Distributed virtual organizations
  • Education in the virtual workplace
  • Effectiveness of collaborative technologies
  • Employee privacy in virtual workplaces
  • Foundations of the virtual workplace
  • Future of virtual workplaces
  • Global virtual teams
  • High-tech labor
  • Instant messaging in the workplace
  • Instructional Design
  • Intelligent knowledge exchange
  • Intranet
  • Knowledge Transfer
  • Meta-communication
  • Mixed media opportunities
  • Online training
  • Organizational virtuality
  • Parawork
  • Plagiarism of online content
  • Professional e-mail communication
  • Role of virtual team leader
  • Successful virtual communication
  • Support of virtual workplaces
  • Telecommuting
  • Telemedicine
  • Transformative Learning
  • Ubiquitous connectivity
  • Virtual Classrooms
  • Virtual employees with disabilities
  • Virtual identity
  • Virtual Marketing
  • Virtual office
  • Virtual team relationships
  • Virtual workplace management
  • Virtual workplace organization
  • Virtual workplace participation
  • Virtual writing
  • Wi-fi technology adoption

Reviews and Testimonials

This context brings with it an almost mind-boggling array of choices for organizations interested in using virtual workplaces. It creates a similarly complex situation for employees considering participating in such environments.

– Pavel Zemliansky, James Madison University, USA

Written for both academics and managers of virtual workplaces, this book addresses unique concerns in terms of security and privacy.

– Book News Inc. (August 2008)

Zemliansky and St. Amant have amassed more than 50 concise, well-referenced articles from authors around the globe on a variety of topics relevant to virtual workplace. Academic researchers will find inspiration for deeper research projects, and those unfamiliar with the field will be introduced to its myraid dimensions. SUMMING UP: Recommended, Upper-division undergraduate through research collections.

– CHOICE (December 2008)

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

Search this Book:
Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Kathleen Blake Yancey
Chapter 1
Pamela Estes Brewer
Virtual workplaces are constructed of people using technology to work at a distance, with the goal of transferring knowledge (both explicit and... Sample PDF
Gains and Losses in the Rhetoric of Virtual Workplaces
Chapter 2
Christie L. McDaniel
Virtual teams are become more and more popular as the world becomes more connected; furthermore, research is suggesting that virtual teams are as... Sample PDF
Removing Space and Time: Tips for Managing the Virtual Workplace
Chapter 3
Marie C. Paretti, Lisa D. McNair
This chapter uses activity theory as a lens to understand the implications of both virtual collaboration and cross-cultural contact for... Sample PDF
Communication in Global Virtual Activity Systems
Chapter 4
Jamie S. Switzer
The world now lives and works in cyberspace. Often, organizations have their people perform functional tasks by working in virtual teams, where... Sample PDF
Successful Communication in Virtual Teams and the Role of the Virtual Team Leader
Chapter 5
S. J. Overbeek, P. van Bommel, H. A. Proper, D. B.B. Rijsenbrij
Exchange of knowledge is becoming increasingly important to modern organizations. In this chapter, it is explained what this elementary knowledge... Sample PDF
Foundations and Applications of Intelligent Knowledge Exchange
Chapter 6
Michelle Rodino-Colocino
Although the debate on the digital divide has evolved from an analysis of access to skill, scholars have largely neglected the significance of... Sample PDF
Digital Divide Redux: Why the Greatest Gap is Ideological
Chapter 7
Parawork  (pages 81-97)
Leah A. Zuidema
The term parawork describes spaces and activities that function alongside—yet also outside—of traditional workplaces. Parawork spaces are not... Sample PDF
Chapter 8
Jamie S. Switzer
In face-to-face interactions, people generally form impressions by focusing on a variety of nonverbal cues. Increasingly, however, people are... Sample PDF
Impression Formation in Computer-Mediated Communication and Making a Good (Virtual) Impression
Chapter 9
Alan D. Smith
Telecommuting is a tool that is becoming more and more a way a life for organizations as they strive to recruit and retain employees and assist them... Sample PDF
Telecommuting and the Management of the Human Moment
Chapter 10
Bolanle A. Olaniran, David A. Edgell
This chapter introduces and explains some critical issues regarding Cultural Implications of Collaborative Information Technologies (CITs) in... Sample PDF
Cultural Implications of Collaborative Information Technologies (CITs) in International Online Collaborations and Global Virtual Teams
Chapter 11
Yulin Fang, Dev K. Dutta
Despite a sizable body of literature on virtual organization, little attention has been paid to defining organizational virtuality and identifying... Sample PDF
Explaining Organizational Virtuality: Insights from the Knowledge-Based View
Chapter 12
Frankie S. Jones
This chapter discusses the findings of a qualitative research study which explored how collaborative technologies facilitate or inhibit the work of... Sample PDF
The Perceptions of Collaborative Technologies Among Virtual Workers
Chapter 13
J. Ramsay, M. Hair, K. V. Renaud
The way humans interact with one another in the 21st Century has been markedly influenced by the integration of a number of different communication... Sample PDF
Ubiquitous Connectivity & Work-Related Stress
Chapter 14
Robert Sprague
This chapter addresses the legal aspects of employee privacy in virtual workplaces. The body of law regarding employee workplace privacy that has... Sample PDF
Employee Privacy in Virtual Workplaces
Chapter 15
Belinda Davis Lazarus
Virtual workplaces offer persons with disabilities new opportunities in the workplace that may simultaneously accommodate their disabilities while... Sample PDF
Accommodating Persons with Disabilities in Virtual Workplaces
Chapter 16
William F. Ritke-Jones
This chapter will explain transformative learning and its value and application to corporate training practices by promoting critical reflection on... Sample PDF
Using Cyberspace to Promote Transformative Learning Experiences and Consequently Democracy in the Workplace
Chapter 17
Julia D. Sweeny
Online training or, e-training, can be less expensive, more efficient, and more productive than traditional face-to-face instruction. This chapter... Sample PDF
Instructional Design and E-Training
Chapter 18
Parissa Haghirian, Bernd Simon
With the modern business environment becoming increasingly dependent on technology, management teaching in higher education faces the challenging... Sample PDF
Designing the Virtual Classroom for Management Teaching
Chapter 19
Christa Ehmann Powers, Beth L. Hewett
Companies that conduct their business either in an entirely online setting or in hybrid environments (i.e., online and face-to-face) are in a unique... Sample PDF
Building Online Training Programs for Virtual Workplaces
Chapter 20
Terrie Lynn Thompson
Before we can exploit new technologies to realize new ways of working, we must be able to imagine innovative possibilities for learning.... Sample PDF
The Virtual Classroom @ Work
Chapter 21
Judith Szerdahelyi
In addition to their traditional low-tech repertoire of cheating methods, students are now compromising academic integrity by utilizing... Sample PDF
Video Technology for Academic Integrity in Online Courses
Chapter 22
Kalyani Chatterjea
The concept of the virtual workplace is used in three initiatives to create an out-of-classroom environment where learners worked on virtual space... Sample PDF
Virtual Workplaces for Learning in Singapore
Chapter 23
Mona Florea, Lillian Rafeldt, Susan Youngblood
The chapter presents healthcare examples of the current virtual working environment and introduces nursing skills necessary for evidence-based... Sample PDF
Using an Information Literacy Program to Prepare Nursing Students to Practice in a Virtual Workplace
Chapter 24
Gary Hepburn
This chapter explores the potential of an educational commons to help schools better prepare students for the virtual workplace. Together with the... Sample PDF
Preparing for the Virtual Workplace in the Educational Commons
Chapter 25
Alan McCord, Morell D. Boone
Our global business climate is rapidly evolving to require greater use of virtual work tools. This chapter provides an overview of today’s virtual... Sample PDF
Technologies and Services in Support of Virtual Workplaces
Chapter 26
Kristie Edwards, Simeon Yates, Anne-Florence Dujardin, Geff Green
A healthy balance between social and task-oriented activities helps teamwork. In virtual teams, e-mail texts must often carry both task-oriented and... Sample PDF
Writing Research into Professional E-Mail Communication
Chapter 27
Matt Barton
There are few terms in the past decade that have excited the popular imagination more than “New Media,” even though few self-described “New Media”... Sample PDF
New Media and the Virtual Workplace
Chapter 28
Ran Wei
This chapter introduces adoption theory and applies it to examine the use of wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi), which has the potential to expand virtual... Sample PDF
Adoption of Wi-Fi Technologies and Creation of Virtual Workplaces
Chapter 29
Clint Bowers, Peter A. Smith, Jan Cannon-Bowers, Denise Nicholson
Virtual worlds and massively multiplayer online games are becoming a useful tool for distributed teams. From providing a common working place, to... Sample PDF
Using Virtual Worlds to Assist Distributed Teams
Chapter 30
Peter Rive
This chapter considers the virtual world Second Life as a workplace. It argues that despite its apparent novelty, Second Life is descended from a... Sample PDF
Knowledge Transfer and Marketing in Second Life
Chapter 31
Goran Vlasic, Jurica Pavicic, Zoran Krupka
This chapter deals with the importance of intranets as knowledge management tools/media enabling efficient knowledge exchange and development within... Sample PDF
Intranets: Interactive Knowledge Management Tools of Networked Communities
Chapter 32
Beth L. Hewett, Russell J. Hewett
This chapter discusses instant messaging (IM) as a valuable digital tool that has influenced business communication practices at least as much as... Sample PDF
Instant Messaging (IM) Literacy in the Workplace
Chapter 33
Aizhong Lin, Erik Vullings, James Dalziel
This chapter introduces the trust virtual organization as a means of facilitating authentication and authorization for sharing distributed and... Sample PDF
Supporting Collaboration with Trust Virtual Organization
Chapter 34
James K. Ford, Tobias Höllerer
Until recently, Augmented Reality (AR) technology has rarely been discussed outside of the computer science world. It has taken years for this... Sample PDF
Augmented Reality and the Future of Virtual Workspaces
Chapter 35
James R. Zimmerman
This chapter applies the evolving principles of electronic communication rhetoric and recent leadership theory to the daily practice of e-mail... Sample PDF
Virtual Writing as Actual Leadership
Chapter 36
José A. Rodrigues Nt, Jano Moreira de Souza, Geraldo Zimbrão, Geraldo Xexéo, Mutaleci Miranda
Business Process Management (BPM) brings together the idea of effectively managing organizations and properly using Information Technology to... Sample PDF
Business Process Reuse and Standardization with P2P Technologies
Chapter 37
Norman E. Youngblood, Joel West
Collaborative writing is an important element of the virtual workplace. While it is sometimes enough to e-mail a document back and forth between... Sample PDF
Collaborative Writing Tools in the Virtual Workplace
Chapter 38
Distance Internships  (pages 544-554)
David A. Edgell
Academic internships and cooperative programs exist so that students can build a bridge between their academic learning and their professional... Sample PDF
Distance Internships
Chapter 39
Lei Lei Meng, Robert Schafer
This chapter aims to define a plan for an international virtual office by exploring the problems that hamper communication within a virtual office.... Sample PDF
An International Virtual Office Communication Plan
Chapter 40
Diego Liberati
A framework is proposed that creates, uses, communicates, and distributes information whose organizational dynamics allow it to perform a... Sample PDF
Design and Managing of Distributed Virtual Organizations
Chapter 41
Heinz D. Knoell
In this chapter we will present semi virtual workplace (SVWP) concepts in the German financial sector (FS) industry. We give a short introduction... Sample PDF
Semi Virtual Workplaces in German Financial Service Enterprises
Chapter 42
R. Todd Stephens
This chapter examines the critical task of providing client support for virtual environments. The vast majority of information workers are not... Sample PDF
Implementing Client-Support for Collaborative Spaces
Chapter 43
Douglas Eyman
This chapter proposes an analytic for the assessment of sustainability and success of virtual workplaces. This analytic considers value, visibility... Sample PDF
Value, Visibility, Virtual Teamwork at Kairos
Chapter 44
Wendy Warren Austin
This chapter explains to business people, administrators, and educator/trainers what plagiarism is and is not, and explores authorship ambiguities... Sample PDF
Plagiarism, Ghostwriting, Boilerplate, and Open Content
Chapter 45
Dana Lynn Driscoll, H. Allen Brizee, Michael Salvo, Morgan Sousa
This chapter describes results of usability research conducted on the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). The Purdue OWL is an information-rich... Sample PDF
Usability and User-Centered Theory for 21st Century OWLs
Chapter 46
Neil P. Baird
Virtual workplaces are no longer the province of young technophiles, and we must become more conscious of the particular challenges and issues those... Sample PDF
Negotiating Virtual Identity in an Age of Globalization
Chapter 47
Olena Igorivna Goroshko
Based on the underlying assumption that gender is a social construct, this chapter explores the World Wide Web home pages of key political figures... Sample PDF
Virtual Political Office Where Gender and Culture Meet
Chapter 48
Eric Franzén
The Internet and other new technologies have made possible an ever-growing availability of distribution channels. New paths are being blazed for... Sample PDF
The Benefits of Using Print-On-Demand or POD
Chapter 49
María José Crisóstomo-Acevedo, José Aurelio Medina-Garrido
Telemedicine requires a new type of worker: the health care teleworker. Nevertheless, physicians remain wary of adopting telemedicine. This work... Sample PDF
Difficulties in Accepting Telemedicine
Chapter 50
Michael J. Klein
This chapter provides educators instructional methods for teaching audience analysis to students in professional writing courses. It argues that a... Sample PDF
Reconsidering the Lay-Expert Audience Divide
Chapter 51
Jayantha P. Liyanage
Operational enterprising is gradually emerging as a new solution to manage offshore assets on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS). This is seen as... Sample PDF
Rapid Virtual Enterprising to Manage Complex and High-Risk Assets
About the Contributors


At one time, the office was a physical place, and employees congregated in the same location to work together on projects. Within this context, one’s coworkers were defined by physical proximity and collaborative work generally involved visiting a colleague’s office or cubicle to ask questions or discuss ideas. Under this paradigm, the idea of distributing project teams across vast, geographic distances would have seemed the acme of inefficiency—if not downright insanity. The advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, however, not only made the unthinkable possible, it forever changed the way persons view both the office and work.

Today, online media has transformed the idea of the workplace from a physical location to, essentially, a state of mind. Communication technologies such as e-mail and instant messaging let coworkers in different regions exchange ideas in a fraction of the time it would take to walk from one office to another. Similarly, blogs, wikis, and online chat groups allow entire teams of geographically distributed workers to discuss, debate, and update project plans on a virtually unlimited scale. These same technologies also allow companies to move distribute directly to a global consumer base via a variety of file sharing technologies and software downloads. The result is a workplace—if not an overall work paradigm—in which the office is but a mouse click away.

Advantages of the Virtual Workplace

The ability to transcend physical space means virtual workplaces offer a variety of advantages to organizations that adopt such approaches. To begin, there is the rather obvious advantage that project teams can now be configured based on the expertise of employees vs. the proximity of individuals to a particular office. Similarly, the ease with which information can move from one location to another means virtual work groups can move more efficiently and effectively than could the employees of the pre-Internet era. Moreover, the ability to make quick, easy, and direct contact with prospective clients as well as colleagues means the consumer can actively become a participant in the overall product development process—a factor that was almost unthinkable only a decade ago.

Virtual work environments also offer a range of advantages related to employee attitudes. Certain studies, for example, reveal that individuals involved in some degree of virtual workplace activity seem to display improved employee loyalty to the organization, increased productivity, and decreased absenteeism (Pinsonneault & Boisvert, 2001). Such work environments also seem to enhance an organization’s knowledge management activities, and allow for a greater degree of flexibility combined with the ability to respond more rapidly to a variety of situations (Burn & Barnett, 1999; Ruppel & Harrington, 2001).

For these reasons, it is perhaps of little surprise that the use of virtual workplace models is on the rise. Some researchers, for example, have pointed out that almost half of all companies in North America allow their employees to participate in some kind of virtual workplace arrangement (McClosky, 2001; Pinsonneault & Boisvert, 2001). Other researchers have noted that the advantages—particularly in terms of speed and flexibility—of virtual workplaces means that tens of millions of workers currently participate in some sort of virtual work environment (Scott & Timmerman, 1999). In fact, the advantages of such approaches have led some experts to predict that almost one third of the adult workforce will partake in some form of virtual workplace activity by 2020 (Scott & Timmerman, 1999). This expansion, moreover, is taking place on a global scale and is making virtual workplaces increasingly international environments.

Prospects for Global Expansion

Participation in virtual workplaces comes down to one key factor: online access. Thus, as more nations gain such access, a broader international range of employees can participate in virtual workplace activities. And while less than one fifth of the world’s population currently has online access (roughly 1.1 billion persons), that number is growing at an almost exponential rate (Internet Usage Statistics, 2007). The number of Internet users in Australia, for example, increased by almost 400,000 between June and August of 2004 alone (Active Internet Users, 2004). At the same time, almost half of the adults in Japan have online access while some three fourths of the citizens of South Korea have access to broadband connections (AsiaBiz Tech, 2003; Forsberg, 2005). This increase in access, paired with the rise of multinational organizations and globalization, creates ideal conditions for virtual workplaces to become international entities. Moreover, the growth of international outsourcing—particularly skilled, knowledge-based work—as a core business practice could also mean virtual workplaces will involve individuals from developing as well as industrialized nations (Beyond the Digital Divide, 2004; Relocating the Back Office, 2003).

Virtual Workplaces: Decisions and Directions

This context brings with it an almost mind-boggling array of choices for organizations interested in using virtual workplaces. It creates a similarly complex situation for employees considering participating in such environments. For example:

  • Which technologies should an organization or an individual use for virtual office work and why?
  • What are the best uses of these technologies?
  • Who should participate in such environments?

    Moreover, the pressure to answer such questions quickly and effectively means both organizations and individuals need some sort of resource or reference to help make informed decisions in relation to virtual workplaces. The purpose of this edited collection is to serve as such a reference or resource.

    To achieve this objective, this handbook has been divided into three major sections. Each section, in turn, presents information, ideas, and opinions on a particular aspect of virtual workplaces. Through such a three-part approach, the handbook provides individuals with a foundation both for understanding the factors that affect virtual work environments and for making effective decisions related to the effective adoption and the efficient operation of such environments.

    Overview of the Sections of the Book

    The book consists of four sections. The first section, entitled “Foundations of the Virtual Workplace,” addresses fundamental issues essential for successfully organizing, managing, or participating in a virtual workplace. These issues range from such broad concerns as establishing the right atmosphere for employee collaboration to more specific topics, such as managing stress in the age of “ubiquitous connectivity” or accommodating the needs of virtual employees with disabilities.

    The concept of the virtual workplace is still relatively new. Anyone hoping to function in a virtual workplace will have to rethink and adjust some of the basic ideas and assumptions about work. To help with such a transition, competent and timely training of new virtual workers is absolutely essential. In the second section, “Education and Training for the Virtual Workplace,” the authors discuss research on the theory and practice of successfully training present and future employees for the virtual workplace. The chapters included in this section will be useful both for practicing virtual workers, such as managers and business owners, as well for college and university faculty and administrators interested in preparing students for success in the virtual workplace.

    Despite the relatively young age of the virtual workplace, virtual workers have developed an impressive array of techniques and tools that allow them to accomplish a variety of tasks. The third section of this volume, “Tools and Environments for Virtual Work,” covers the tools available to members of virtual workplaces. These tools range from such traditional ones as e-mail and instant messaging to such more recent arrivals on the virtual workplace scene as collaborative writing environments and virtual worlds. We hope that the chapters included in this section will prove useful both for practicing virtual workers and managers and to students of the virtual workplace.

    The final section of the book is called “Implementation of Virtual Workplaces Across Professions and Academic Disciplines.” It covers the different ways in which professions and academic disciplines use, adapt, and appropriate the theory and practice of the virtual workplace. The fields and professions discussed in this section include business, medicine, politics, education, and others. We believe that this broad scope of disciplines and professions emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of the study of the virtual workplace. In addition, it stresses the need for any employee, manager, or scholar to keep up-to-date on the topic of the virtual workplace. As editors, we hope that this book will help our readers accomplish that goal. We are sure that the experts who contributed to this collection want to achieve the same goal.

    Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

    Pavel Zemliansky, PhD, is an Associate Professor of writing and rhetoric at James Madison University where he also directs the first-year composition program. Dr. Zemliansky teaches courses in composition, visual and digital rhetoric, and methods of teaching writing. He has published several books and numerous book chapters and journal articles on rhetoric and the teaching of writing.
    Kirk St.Amant is an Associate Professor of Technical and Professional Communication in the Department of English at East Carolina University. He has a background in anthropology, international government, and technical communication, and his research interests include intercultural exchanges via online media and international outsourcing. He has taught online and conventional courses in technical and professional communication and in intercultural communication for Texas Tech University, Mercer University, and James Madison University. He has also taught courses in e-commerce, distance education, and business communication in Ukraine as a part of the USAID-sponsored Consortium for the Enhancement of Ukrainian Management Education (CEUME).


    Editorial Board

    Rich Rice
    Texas Tech University, USA

    Barry Thatcher
    New Mexico State University, USA

    Matt McCool
    Southern Polytechnic University, USA

    Carlos Evia
    Virginia Tech University, USA

    Kit Brown
    Comgenisis, USA

    Shelley Aley
    James Madison University, USA

    Michael Klien
    James Madison University, USA