Telework and virtual mistrust

This is an interesting take on the whole out of “site” out of mind problem.  Teleworkers trying to be effective members of teams and maybe over compensating and thereby beside only a source of knowledge/information, but not receiving it.

I know I've fealt this.  Okay to prove I'm actually working I'm going to write an extensive commentary on this article and send it to my colleagues.  Then, pausing, I wonder, when was the last time they shared a new find with me.

I'm not sure this can be overcome with video conferencing, but tools like Convoq's ASAP can help by making rich meetings nearly painless.

Stanford finds a new problem for business: virtual mistrust   

Stanford University's research on virtual work first raises a red flag which they label “virtual mistrust”, and then offers some recommendations, including ones we at the Telework Consortium have been making for some time now –  utilizing advanced collaboration tools such as videoconferencing.

An article in the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, Stanford finds a new problem for business: virtual mistrust, (July 19, 2004) summarizes with:

'The new research suggests that virtual teams may extract an unexpected price: People who add their hard-won knowledge to a common pool may become alienated from the organization and even fear that they are sowing the seeds for their own replacement. '

and adds:

'Employees working in virtual teams are, to a certain extent, isolated from their colleagues. Although they may have contact with other employees of their organizations, they don't spend much time with them. In this situation, the virtual worker loses opportunities to learn from his or her closest colleagues. In effect, there's a double penalty. The virtual worker perceives herself as giving away her knowledge but not having the chance to “replenish her own reservoir of knowledge,” and thus feels even more vulnerable, says Ms. Neale. '

The TechWeb News article Study Exposes Downside of Virtual Work (July 19, 2004) adds:

'To remedy the situation, Neale recommended that enterprises make it easier for virtual team members to learn from others by offering mentoring programs or sending workers to conferences, and providing them more advanced collaboration tools, such as video conferencing, to better mimic the interaction found in on-site teams.'

Unless I've missed the new study, these articles are based on research announced by Stanford last year (Oct. 2003) after it was published in the June 2003 issue of MIS Quarterly.

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