Now there are many types of virtual workplaces; however the most popular ones are telecommuting, telecenters, and virtual teams.
Telecommuting is the practice of working in an offsite location using communication technologies. If you work at home and communicate to the office through technology, then this is an example of telecommuting. Telecommuting saves the employee from having to travel to work and in case of road chaos it keeps the employee safe. Employers save money through telecommuting by cutting down the support services such as transportation. However telecommuting may deprive the employee from social intact which at a long run can cause lowered performance levels.
When telecommuting DOES make sense (right job, right person, right reason, right boss) firms report that peopleâ€™s strategic planning skills go up dramatically because they have blocks of time to think (Warner, 1997). People themselves say they are as much as 40% more productive while working away from the office, because they have fewer distractions.
Telecenters support telecommuting and provide work equipment that is not accessible in home or on the roads available to the employee. It is essentially just like providing what can be available under an office or a branch, but without being a branch in itself. An example of equipment that would be in a telecenter would be copiers, fax machines, and any tools that would support telecommuting.
Virtual teams are the most common form of virtual workplaces. When there are several employees that work closely but are not in the same physical location, they can be classified as virtual teams. Such teams impose major challenges on the organization, because if not managed properly they can create dispersed teams that deviate from the organizational strategic goal, and causes poor leadership.
There are many forms of virtual teams including networked teams, parallel teams, project developments teams, functional teams and service teams.
The benefits of those teams are many including the increased productivity of employees that are capable of sharing knowledge and expanding skills through some processes they apply such as conferences, trainings, and meetings. The major benefit of such teams on the organization is the expanded market opportunities. When teams operate in different countries each team can have access to marketing opportunities in that country and can bring to the organization many hot deals and partners.
Other benefits of virtual teams include:
1. Expansion of labor market: the organization can hire the best people with the least costs no matter where they are.
2. Employee retention : the organization is not forced to give up on employees that need to locate to new countries
3. Employees can be assigned to multiple concurrent teams
4. Saving times, travel expenses, and providing access to outside experts or consultants without incurring huge expenses
5. Material is available online for any employee to use, which allow managers to easily extract reports
Those are generally our findings and thoughts regarding types of virtual workplaces. Your thoughts?