Our global business climate is rapidly evolving to require greater use of virtual work tools. This chapter provides an overview of today’s virtual work technologies against the backdrop of evolving business needs. The concept of the virtual workplace is discussed from the perspectives of nomadicity, pervasive computing, and globalization. This chapter provides two frameworks—a technology services framework and a virtual services management framework—for evaluating an organization’s readiness and capabilities to develop, deploy, and support effective virtual work environments. The elements of the frameworks are explored through examination of real-world issues surrounding the evolution of virtual workplaces. The chapter also proposes two assessment approaches to evaluate virtual work capabilities and the virtuality of enterprise work groups.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Nomadicity: A phenomenon where individuals perform work from a number of locations and rarely from a central office.
Conferencing Tools: Virtual work tools that enable multiple workers to collaborate in real time using audio and video feeds.
Tacit Work: requiring workers to exercise experiential judgment and collaboration.
Pervasive Computing: A technology environment that supports nomadic workers using wireless networking, context awareness, personalization, and human-device interaction.
Telework: A phenomenon where a worker will perform most or all of his or her professional work at home.
Governance: The processes established to make investment decisions about the use of technology, including gathering input, weighing options, and making decisions.
Learning Community: An informal network of subject matter experts who choose to collaborate with each other to discuss issues, interpret information, and generate knowledge and best practices.
Portal: A gateway to multiple Internet-based services, generally customizable by the end-user.
Infrastructure: Shared technology components that support deployment of business application systems and virtual work systems.
Enterprise Technologies: Technologies deployed for use by all workers in an enterprise, generally featuring data or process integration between the individual components.
Virtual Work: Work performed in a different geographic location from co-workers or supervisors.
Technology Architecture: A framework for building an enterprise including networking, hardware, operating systems, database management systems, and application development standards.
Communication Tools: Virtual work tools including e-mail, telephone, facsimile, and office productivity tools.
Virtualization: The abstraction of enterprise technology resources such as servers or storage devices which support the operation of multiple virtual resources on a single device.
Networked Individualism: A phenomenon where individuals interact with network resources and information on their own terms.