Recent years have witnessed an incredible development of information technology and the structure of traditional work environment is changing. The emergency of virtual work has been reflected in some companies’ new work policy. For example, Jetblue Airlines has changed its working conditions and established a virtual call centre where employees can work from home without a central office. Despite the technology advancement that enables virtual working, the amount of people adopting this new working pattern is still very low. This report will explore the nature of virtual work and analyse the barriers of adopting this work policy, as well as give suggestions on how to overcome these barriers.
2. Nature of virtual work
Virtual organisation, by definition, is a principle of management that has been used in a variety of applications, including virtual memory, virtual reality, virtual classrooms, virtual teams, and virtual offices (Mowshowitz, 2002). Unlike traditional organizations, the virtual organization itself has no need for physical representation. Its output, however, might influence the physical world directly, such as the direct buying or selling of stocks, or indirectly, such as providing decision support for a human agent in a traditional organization. Virtual offices, also known as virtual working, allow employees to operate in dynamically changing work environment. Virtual working as part of the virtual organization can be defined as the use of communications networks rather than buildings and physical assets, meaning that the physical location of work is now less important (Pang, 2001). As the result, departments and teams no longer have to work in close contact with each other. The common denominator for all virtual workers is that they communicate and perform work duties almost entirely through electronic technology, such as instant messaging, blogs and social networking. Employees in this situation, need a certain level of self-control ability, andvery often need to structure the environment and systems they use to perform a variety of tasks, for example, getting familiar with different types of communication software.
3. Advantages of virtual work
3.1 For companies
3.1.1 Less cost
Virtual work enables a company to reduce costs in renting, travelling and labor salary. Telecommuting allows people to work from home or anywhere they want instead of staying in an office and thus helps an organisation to reduce expenditure in renting the building (Tomic, nd). Also, no office means that the company does not have to hire cleaners or other labors and pay their salary. Additionally, companies can reduce the travel expenses as geographical distance in virtual organization is no longer an obstacle to hold meetings and conferences. Virtual workers can communicate through the internet instead of going to other places to observe and study.
3.1.2 Increased effectiveness
Companies that implement virtual work policy can increase effectiveness because employees can save the time of commuting to work. Better communication, fewer distractions, better concentration and less traveling time contribute to the increased 15-50% productivity in a virtual organization (Tomic, nd). Employees can also improve work quality due to more strategic use of work time and less disruption.
3.2 For employees
3.2.1 Less stress
Virtual working not only eases their traffic problems, but also relieves employees¡¯ office pressure. Most employees worry about their privacy and do not feel comfortable in office. By working from home or other places employees no longer have to deal with office politics and office gossip (Anderson, 2012). Also, virtual workers do not have to rush bus and metro during the peak hours. By working from home, employees can have more time dealing with work in a relaxing environment, which is beneficial for their mental health.
3.2.2 Improved work-life balance
Working from home gives...