Uniting the Virtual Workforce For Engagement
by David Zinger
The book. Karen Lojeski and Richard Reilly wrote Uniting the Virtual Workforce. The cover has the picture of a person on a mountain top with his laptop and I borrowed the book from the University of Manitoba Management Library. I thought I’d give it a scan and I didn’t think I would get too much from it.
Wrong again. Was I wrong! I became enthralled by the work of Lojeski and Reilly and instantly was making notes on how to enact what they wrote about for projects I am involved in.
The impact. Here is some of the effects of virtual distance, the psychological distance created between people by an over-reliance on electronic communications:
- 50% decline in project success
- 80% plummet in work satisfaction.
- 83% fall off in trust
- 65% decrease in role and goal clarity
- 50% decline in leader effectiveness
20% of people have never met their boss? One startling statistic the author cite is from a recent Stanford University study: one out of every five professionals has never met their boss.
Distance is more than space. The authors outline the sources of distance: affinity distance, operational distance, and physical distance.
Trust: Benevolence, ability, and integrity. One of the strengths from my perspective of the book was the section on trust and the challenges that distance places on trust. In distant communication we still receive the cognitive elements of trust but the affective elements are a challenge. Benevolence, ability, and integrity can influence trust and distance can tax these pathways to trust.
Be DUMB. I am so tired of the acronym of SMART goals it was refreshing to have the authors advocate virtual dumb goals: Direct, Understandable, Meaningful, Believable.
Gems. I believe the authors offer a number of gems that would enhance and foster the engagement of the virtual workforce. I encourage you to read the book to get a fuller understanding of the complexity of distance and the virtual workforce and the methods the authors advocate to unite a virtual workforce.
6 Personal Virtual Engagement Actions.
- I am now very attuned to distance even with people just a few feet away.
- I have ensured that I increase my phone contact with others instead of an over-reliance on email.
- I do my best to arrange at least some initial face-to-face time.
- I will try and have pictures of the people I work with at a distance and have video calls whenever possible.
- I now have a goal to meet as many of the members of my employee engagement network members as possible.
- I will gain proficiency and experience with webinars to try and shorten our affinity, operational, and physical distance.
I encourage you to go the distance with Lojeski and Reilly.