Businesses and organizations are using technology exponentially to communicate and organize “Big Data.” The hope is that the organization can impact the bottom line either by lowering costs or driving revenue. Technology provides opportunities to respond to global markets and create new relationships that may be advantageous. Technology allows people to interact, engage and share experiences without being physically together. This ability to interact without physical presence is what happens in the virtual environment. These new environments exist because they can.

Changes fueled by an unlimited technology arsenal impact our relationships at work. Consultants, micro workers and experts are available to organizations. A global workforce at your fingertips provides both speed and reach. Compensation practices, the layout of the workplace and job expectations are under scrutiny. Organizations are rethinking what “good looks like.” They are attempting to break down silos (isolation), embrace and not limit vacations, have casual days every day and share visions. This technology is also disruptive and has the impact of changing not only where we work but how.

The virtual workplace is here. People rely on electronic communication and virtual connectivity to get their jobs done. This reliance on technology has created an environment that has a double edge. You are both isolated and constantly connected. More than 50 million people travel less but work just as effectively using technology. They don’t have to be in the office and they don’t need to travel for meetings either. To some extent this technology has been liberating. People don’t have to do long commutes, sit in traffic or fight the weather. They can work at home in their “pajamas” if they choose. The new environment is a more relaxed, less structured and more flexible environment than the traditional workplace. Remote access with web-based technology, collaboration tools and smart devices supports flexible work environments and adaptive schedules. It also appears to be flatter.

You can have a direct connection to higher levels of management. These people, who were unapproachable in the face to face (F2F) world, are a Tweet or an email away. But there is another much darker and disturbing side to the virtual environment. It is an environment of paradoxes, of opposites and of contradictions. Authority, authenticity, privacy, accountability and identity are only a few of the dichotomies facing the virtual workplace. The old structures are falling but slowly. Like the coliseum in Rome, position, rewards and recognition from another time are still standing in many organizations.

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