Complexity Factors in Networked and Virtual Working Environments

Complexity Factors in Networked and Virtual Working Environments

Juha Kettunen (Turku University of Applied Sciences, Finland), Ari Putkonen (Turku University of Applied Sciences, Finland) and Ursula Hyrkkänen (Turku University of Applied Sciences, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-986-1.ch087
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Abstract

Working environments are changing from the traditional model. An increasing amount of work takes place in networked and virtual environments which are not tied to one place and time. The work environment is defined “virtual,” when the employee uses information and communication technology (ICT) for collaboration (Vartiainen, 2006). The planning of working conditions becomes challenging task for managers and ICT tool developers, because there is a lack of understanding the consequences of emerging virtual work. The capacity of workers to percept and process information is burdened with the complexity and high demands of working life. Knowledge of the complexity factors of the overall work system is essential for an in depth understanding of human working capabilities and limitations (Kleiner, 2006). The complexity of work is usually considered as a factor related to the task. At the one end the task is creative and demanding and at the other end it is simple and routine-like. The expanded complexity concept also takes into account the working environment that can be different combinations of physical, virtual, social and cultural spaces. The purpose of this article is to present a framework to analyse the complexity factors in networked and virtual working environments. The approach developed in this article is intended to be generic in order to be applicable to various kinds of organisations and networks for the purpose of management. It is important that the working conditions of workers can be planned in advance to provide workers with appropriate ICT tools and data networks to enable efficient cooperation in networks in a way that the workload can be limited to a sustainable level. The described framework is assessed using the case of the Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS).

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