Managing Professionals in Virtual Environment Term Paper

Pages: 15 (4984 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 26  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Management

SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .

(Davenport & Pearlson, 1998)

The authors focus on the challenges of virtual employees and echo those that are expressed by other researchers. They note that managers may have trouble with supervising employees that are out of sight. In addition, while virtual employees have mobility and flexibility, this benefit is often offset by the elimination of the benefit of meeting face-to-face with coworkers. People can gather valuable information by body language, that is lost in e-mail or even phone conversations. Corporate culture may be lost as well, without this socialization. Corporate allegiance may decrease for this same reason. (Davenport & Pearlson, 1998) Potter (2003), of the Employment Policy Foundation in Washington DC agrees. Maintaining corporate culture due too the surge in interest in telecommuting is one challenge employers will have to face.

A new insight Davenport & Pearlson (1998) provide is the fact that some employees may resist becoming virtual as well. They may not have adequate space at home for an office. Or they may have distractions at their home environment, such as children, that would not be conducive to working from home.

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Managing people and not technology is the key to effective implementation of a virtual workforce, according to Daniels (1998), a freelance journalist based in Leeds, UK. She notes the incredible growth in technology over the recent years, and how this technology now makes it possible for people to collaborate and communicate across the distances. The technology is in place to change the way people work, especially in service industries. A change in business as a whole is taking place. Now, many organizations are working towards the concept of a core organization dealing with core or strategic activities, surrounded by a network of smaller companies and individuals (associates) providing a range of supporting, ancillary services on a contracted, outsourced basis. The older, large, physical corporation can be replaced by this core plus periphery - the virtual corporation. (Daniels, 1998)

TOPIC: Term Paper on Managing Professionals in Virtual Environment Assignment

Control is the biggest challenge Daniels (1998) sees. Ensuring employees are able to make sound judgments as necessary is critical. They are being given a greater responsibility also in self-management. And, although technology exists to monitor virtual employees every moment, it defeats the purpose of telecommuting, again, it is as Cascio (2000) noted, managers have to turn their focus on results, not micro-management.

Kirsten Broadfoot (2001), a doctoral student in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder, reiterates the concern for lack of control with virtual workers. She notes,

When employees move offsite and out of sight, their computers, pagers, cell phones, and answering machines all become components of an elaborate technological panopticon as management reaches across time and space to maintain control and influence. Moreover, managers have also been encouraged to focus on task completion as a method of employee control.

Her research has shown despite this lack of control, employees typically are more productive.

Deondra Conner (2003), of the School of Business, Alcorn State University, agrees that organizations are seeking to streamline their operations by cutting costs. As part of this streamlining, many organizations are turning to virtual employees. With this change in organizational forms and the context of work, there is potential for consequences unforeseen.

One possible consequence is a change in the availability and type of referent others available." (Conner, 2003)

Utilizing Festinger's work in the area of social comparison theories, Conner (2003) notes that people use others who are close to them in ability to compare their abilities. Meaning people tend to use people that are similar to them, when comparing themselves, in order to conserve or improve self-esteem. (Conner, 2003) This is especially applicable to virtual employees.

Virtual employees do not have the social interactions necessary to fully utilize social comparison. "Instead, individuals of virtual work environments may have to use combinations of comparative referents of which little or no research has examined the consequences." (Conner, 2003) Leading to the addition of another challenge managers may face with virtual employees, as a reduction in self-esteem could affect productivity.

Kirkman et al. (2002) expand on the subject of challenges that are experienced with virtual employees, specifically when they are assigned to virtual teams. In this they cite a case study of Sabre, Inc.

This team of researchers is especially well qualified to discuss this topic.

Kirkman is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior in the DuPree College of Management at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Rosen is Hanes Professor of Management in the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received his Ph.D. from Wayne State University. Gibson holds a joint position as Associate Professor at the Center for Effective Organizations and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, and received her Ph.D. from the University of California-Irvine. Tesluk is Assistant Professor of Management and Organization at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, and received his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. And, McPherson is a Project Manager for Sabre, Inc.

In their research, the authors gather a comprehensive set of interviews with team members, leaders, general managers, and executives on 65 virtual teams at Sabre, Inc. Upon analyzing this information, they found five challenges that organizations may face in the implementation of virtual teams. Those five challenges are: building trust, maximizing process gains, overcoming feelings of isolation, balancing technical and interpersonal skills, and assessment and recognition. (Kirkman, 2002)

These finding reiterate others findings especially in the feelings of isolation and the need for communication to offset it. In addition, it echoes the importance of changing focus of managers to results, and as such developing appropriate assessment and recognition tools.

Raghuram, Gamd, Wiesenfeld, and Guptaa (2001), of Fordham University, Stern School of Business at New York University, Stern School of Business at New York University, and Fordham University respectively, explore the important factors in the adaptation of employees to the virtual workplace. They agree with the other researchers that developing appropriate and effective evaluation criteria is a challenge, as is the relinquishment of control and development of work independence. There are relational challenges as well that echo others findings, including trust and organizational connectedness. There research compliments the other researchers' findings.

In addition, they shed light on some interesting differences when age and gender is considered as a variable. They found older people better suited to virtual working, and hypothesized that this was due to a stronger need to be independent than their younger coworkers. And, they found that men adapted better to virtual work than women. (Raghuram et al., 2001)

Kim, Emmett, & Sikula (2001), all of the Graduate School of Management Lewis College of Business at Marshall University, discuss the changing nature of the American workforce, in particular the trend for virtual employees, and the effect on employee relations ethics.

In their paper, they term employee relations ethics as "treating employees properly, with respect and dignity." (Kim et al., 2001)

They see bottom line thinking and self-interest prevailing in organizations, and these being a challenge as virtual employees are implemented. With employees out of sight, the potential becomes real that they are not considered as "real" as onsite employees, and therefore the potential for mistreatment. Kim et al. (2001) notes that at the time approximately 15% of the American workforce worked from home. They allow for office space in their homes, and often are much more productive than their in-house counterparts, plus save the organization money in reduced real estate costs, yet, they most often do not receive any additional pay. This, the authors see, as a violation of employee relations ethics, and they believe it needs to be addressed by management.

Jeanne Allert, owner and principal of Ellipsis Partners, a completely virtual Internet consulting firm and Adjunct Professor at Loyola College in Baltimore, discusses the challenges of virtual employees from her unique perspective. Instead of theories, Allert (2001) describes exactly the steps she takes to hire virtual employees and keep them connected. These are the two biggest challenges she sees in managing virtual employees.

Hiring the right person for a virtual position is new to most managers. In addition, her thoughts on keeping them connected to the rest of the organization compliments several other researchers.

Wiesenfeld, Raghuram, and Garud (2001) teamed up again to further study managing virtual workers and hypothesized that there was a need for affiliation and work-based social support. This fits in with Conner's (2003) research in the need to be with others in order to emphasize one's own self-worth; in addition, they speak of organization identification espoused by others as well. Wiesenfeld et al. (2001) state,

Virtual work increases employees' isolation and independence, threatening to fragment the organization. This study finds that virtual workers' need for affiliation and the work-based social support they experience are countervailing forces associated with stronger organizational identification. Furthermore, perceived work-based social support moderates the relationship between virtual workers' need… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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