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#WFH: Are You Listening Between the Lines?

Organizations and other individuals touch us in many ways. Organizations are essentially networks of people who are joined together through interactions and form relationships. Communicating expectations, goals, objectives, deadlines, knowledge, support and efficacy cements relationships. A wide range of work environments may be considered to be virtual: global work teams, geographically dispersed project teams, inter-organizational groups, non-traditional work places (hotels, home or work centers) and non-traditional roles (micro workers, experts or consultants). Team structures and communication procedures unite or separate people in the virtual environment. Effective leaders not only know how to navigate within the structures and procedures, they know how to read between the lines.

At the heart of performance is communication-based work practices. These practices can be accomplished by conversations. In the virtual world, how those practices take place depends not only on the individuals involved but on the technology used and the affordances of that technology. The virtual environment is complex and the modes for communication areas exploding. In the virtual environment multiplicity is the norm. It is normal for virtual work-er to use a multitude of different technologies and work at a variety of locations.

It is also typical to work with a wide variety of colleagues from many different areas. The virtual worker usually works on an assortment of teams and assumes many different roles simultaneously. They may belong to several task forces, work on several project teams, and belong to a department or division or a work group. What develops is multiple relationships. Managing multiple relationships can be challenging. If we can eliminate the obvious, and assume that communicating via all these differ-ent technologies is not the same as being in a F2F meeting, then the question becomes: What do we need to do to use these technologies effectively and support virtual workers and the organization?

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