Virtual organization

It is predicted that by the year 2010 up to half of the British workforce could be working for some form of virtual organization or working at least part of the week at home. Clearly this trend will have enormous implications for managers and for design of organizations and the ways in which they will try to achieve their objectives. Communication in the information age no longer requires employees to be in physical contact with each other, their customers or even the companies that employ them.

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Research by Forster (2001) sees ‘Ericsson’ already confidently using the virtual route, they have half of there workforce working away from there office. The forecast for the USA is that 60% of professionals will be virtually working by 2010. Teams Organisational Design Warner (2001) looked at virtual organisations and concluded that virtual organisations should be seen as a set of strategic options, in which managers should consider how they can best adapt the virtual model to their own organisation: there is no best solution.

New jobs need to be created such as executive coordinators whom according to Nissen (2002) will act like Mum to keep the ‘family unit’ together working harmoniously. Efficiency Efficiency is concerned with doing the right things and relates to inputs and what the manager does, such as clarification of objectives, planning, organisation, direction and control. (Mullins, 2002) Control According to Franks (1998) the same issue of control that applied to partner organisations also applies to remote workers.

Technology can be used to monitor performance by number of phone calls made etc but it would be more appropriate to trust remote workers and to judge them on output on contribution than a mechanist measure of work preformed. Effectiveness According to Mullins (2002) the manager in order to be effective must attain the optimum results in the vital areas of the organisation, best possible use of resources, ever-increasing profitability, and achievement of the aims and objectives of the organisation.

The difference between effectiveness and efficiency is that effectiveness relates to outputs and what the manager actually achieves. Managerial effectiveness is measured by the standards of performance and the contentment and devotion of the employees. The effectiveness of managers can therefore be judged partly on there staff, by these factors: Appendix 1 shows a basic motivational model. As yet no theory has come up with the best way to motivate but they may act as a guide.

Vroom’s expectancy theory based is model (see appendix 3) on 3 key variables: valence, instrumentality and expectancy. Motivation is a combination of valence and expectancy. Valency is the value a person places on the reward offered. Expectancy is the estimate of the likelihood that the reward might actually be achieved. So valency and expectancy both high equals motivated behaviour and valency and/ or expectancy both low equals no motivation. The effect of the virtual team could result in increased isolation by individual employees, resulting in a reduction of motivation and morale.

This in some companies has resulted in “cyber slacking” where employees spend endless amounts of time wondering aimlessly around the net. Recently Rank- Xerox sacked 40 employees for wasting up to eight hours a day down loading pornography, at a rate of use that once froze the whole companies computer network (Forster, 2000)! Working environment Pauleen and Yoong (2001) believe that developing personal relationships amongst virtual teams is essential in creating an effective workforce.

They have found that a higher task performance, enhanced creativity, motivation, better decisions and fewer process losses is associated with stronger relational links. To develop personal relationships and trust they found that an initial face to face meeting was essential. The leader should also have one to one meetings with each member of staff at the beginning of the project cycle. After these meetings it was seen to be essential to communicate by phone and to always reply to information sent, such as e-mails, with a “simple thank you, received”.

Training and Development Mullins (2002) states that ‘the purpose of training is to improve knowledge and skills, and to change attitudes’. With the constant bombardment of new technology it is not surprising that constant training is needed. Pauleen and Yoong see this as an essential part in creating an effective virtual team. Training needs to take place in order to develop familiarity and proficiency with virtual communication channels, to assist in task and social interactions.

One manager who took part in there study said that a manager goal of training should involve learning how to replace nods and smiles with protocols. Franks (1998) believes that workers will have to be continually re-educated and re-trained. The workforce will be able to obtain information and be supported by technology to gain information. Therefore training will probably have to be delivered remotely. Conclusion As the first wave of what Foster (2000) calls “Generation T” (the generation who have gown up on this technology) enters the workforce the need for direct face to face contact may diminish.

However it is apparent that it is needed now and is this always possible? What if you wanted to employ staff from all over the world? It would simply be too expensive to fly everyone to the same place in order for them to meet face to face. Perhaps further study could look at how management could overcome the need for face to face sociability. Appendix 1 identifies and compares the important differences between the characteristics of traditional organisations and emerging virtual organisations such as Dell and Nike (Walters, 2000).