The Power of Virtual DistanceA Guide to Productivity and Happiness in the Age of Remote Work
This revised second edition presents 15 years of data on Virtual Distance metrics and their predictive impact on organizational success factors ¯shedding new light on how to correct for communication challenges that often show up as a foggy set of digital disconnects where the vitality of the virtual workforce often gets lost in transmission. This still-evolving Digital Age conundrum continues to present new complications. The rise of remote work which rests on an increasing reliance on electronic communication and the overall growth of virtual interactions has led to the escalation of a phenomenon called Virtual Distance. Virtual Distance, which influences our behavior through three components¯Physical Distance, Operational Distance, and Affinity Distance¯affects not only how we relate to others thousands of miles away but even to co-workers sitting right next to each other! Perhaps even more problematic, Virtual Distance causes measureable malfunctions in teamwork, innovation, leader effectiveness and overall performance. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The Power of Virtual Distance offers specific, proven and predictable solutions that can reverse these trends and turn Virtual Distance into a unification strategy to capture untapped competitive advantage. Surprised? The Power of Virtual Distance, 2nd Edition is a must-read for leadership who want to understand the true and quantifiable costs of the virtual workplace. For the first time ever, readers can take the guesswork out of managing the virtual workforce by applying a mathematical approach derived from the extensive Virtual Distance data set: The Virtual Distance Ratio. The Virtual Distance Ratio can precisely pinpoint the particular impacts of Virtual Distance on the organization’s critical success factors. Beyond business metrics, Virtual Distance solutions also detail ways to restore meaningfulness and well-being into people’s experience of work, enhancing life lived in the Digital Age. The Power of Virtual Distance reveals an updated set of data, including the first award-winning analysis, collected from an extended range of executives to individual contributors, that represent situations and solutions in more than 36 industries in 55 countries across the globe. Readers will get a “first look” at the data and its revelations on how to be less isolated and more integrated. Helping managers globally, this book: Offers new, real-world case studies and a chance for readers to participate in thought experiments to help with personal performance, group synergy and by extension, relationship dynamics of all kinds Demonstrates (with statistically significant trend analyses) that Virtual Distance is growing at exponential rates in every corner of communities worldwide Offers expert advice on how to manage the “unintended human consequences” of today’s digital technologies Companies that successfully harness the power of Virtual Distance demonstrate better performance. The second edition of The Power of Virtual Distance is a valuable, one-of-a-kind resource for everyone – from the C-suite to human resource professionals; from divisional leaders to project managers. Everyone in the organization can benefit by discovering how to improve financials, innovation, trust, employee engagement, satisfaction, organizational citizenship and other key performance indicators. And perhaps best of all, by following the prescriptions on how to reduce Virtual Distance, the entire workforce will have the tools they need to bring about a revival of meaning, purpose and an enlivened sense of “humanhood” back into everyday work and everyday life.
Preface ix Acknowledgments xxv Introduction: We are the Data 1 Chapter 1: The Road to Virtual Distance 37 Chapter 2: Redefining Distance 49 Chapter 3: Meeting Virtual Distance 67 Chapter 4: Measuring Virtual Distance 97 Chapter 5: Mapping Virtual Distance 123 Chapter 6: Managing Virtual Distance 147 Chapter 7: Redefining Teams 183 Chapter 8: Virtual Distance and Technology 199 Chapter 9: Reimagining Innovation 223 Chapter 10: Soul-Based Leadership – An Introduction 239 Appendix A: Virtual Distance and Neuroscience: A Different Perspective 269 Appendix B: Notes on Survey Research Methodology and Virtual Distance 295 Appendix C: Expanded List of Project Descriptions 305 Index 333
DR. KAREN SOBEL LOJESKI is CEO of Virtual Distance International (VDI), a research-based predictive analytics and consulting firm specializing in measuring, mapping, and managing the impact of Virtual Distance in the workforce and beyond. She holds a BS in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Technology Management, Leadership, I/O Psychology and Innovation from Stevens Institute of Technology. Sobel Lojeski is affiliated with many academic institutions including the Stockholm School of Economics, University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and the Graduate School of Education, Institute for Advanced Study and Babson College. RICHARD R. REILLY is Professor Emeritus at the School of Business, Stevens Institute of Technology. He is the co-author of Blockbusters: The Five Keys to Developing Great New Products.
Virtual Distance—the measurable disconnect that arises when we rely on digitally mediated communication—applies to all of us. In the Second Edition of The Power of Virtual Distance, Karen Sobel Lojeski and Richard R. Reilly showcase 15 years of data to describe their powerful framework for predicting everything from trust, employee engagement and job satisfaction to bottom-line results. With new research from over 1,400 studies, this book demonstrates that the disorder inherent in digital work is quantifiable and can hold down financial returns as well as materially decrease meaningful experience, if we don't take Virtual Distance into account in every strategic decision. Employees in the internet age often show up to work, only to spend their days "typing" their way through work, writing and responding to e-mail, and screen-tapping with unseen others online rather than sharing a felt sense of experience. Technology is at the very core of everything we do, and it enables us to be more connected than ever before. But even though technology can collapse the physical distance between us, it can also spark an explosion of psychological and emotional distance. Every business leader needs to understand how these phenomena affect employees' health and well-being—and, ultimately, business performance. The Power of Virtual Distance, Second Edition represents a major new update to the authors' original text on the concept of Virtual Distance, published ten years ago. What was, at that time, a groundbreaking new theory, proved to be a prescient expression of what has become the mainstream understanding: the more connected we become, the more isolated we begin to feel. In this Second Edition, the authors present new data, case studies, and the exponentially growing body of evidence underscoring the business case and human necessity for accounting for Virtual Distance. This unique book has the power to help leaders in organizations of all sizes reorient their focus to minimize the negative effects of Virtual Distance and generate positive change while embracing the benefits of the digital era.
Praise for The Power of Virtual Distance, Second Edition "It wasn't all that long ago that working over virtual distances was considered a groundbreaking new concept. The authors' first book on the topic, published in 2008, had to be devoted to explaining how to navigate this new style of working. As is often the case, what was once groundbreaking has now become mainstream and routine. Yet, challenges remain, both in how to reap the benefits while avoiding the pitfalls of virtual distance. In The Power of Virtual Distance, Second Edition, the authors address these challenges head on with data from more than 55 countries and over 1,400 case studies across 36 industry sectors. This book is required reading for anyone trying to understand the continuing evolution of the workplace in the digital age." —IRVING WLADAWSKY-BERGER, IBM VP Emeritus; MIT Research Affiliate "Lojeski and Reilly bring us something that readers of business books so rarely get—no nonsense, practical guidance built from rigorous predictive metrics. The Power of Virtual Distance, Second Edition pinpoints how to manage both real, psychological, and emotional distance when interacting with digital communication technology—between people sitting thousands of miles apart or people simply sitting right across the same table! It gives all of us who struggle working with talent that's mediated by electronic devices—no matter where they're located—a roadmap for how to do this right!" —PATRICK J. MCKENNA, author of First Among Equals New research on the hidden costs of virtualization and how to manage them The world of work is becoming increasingly virtual. This means much more than the rise of remote work, which comes with its own set of costs and benefits. The challenges of the Digital Age give rise to Virtual Distance—a new phenomenon that profoundly changes how we think and feel about the relationships to each other, ourselves, and the world around us. The transition to a "virtual" workforce—whether in-person or remote—creates real and quantifiable challenges to collaboration and innovation. The Power of Virtual Distance, Second Edition shows—through new findings from more than 1,400 studies spread across 55 countries that traverse more than 36 industry sectors over the past 15 years—that there are substantially increasing and damaging costs to companies as well as people's personal sense of purpose, as we move deeper into the depths of doing work virtually. The authors then offer scientifically proven methods for measuring these costs and go further to provide predictive solutions on how to manage them into the future. Wherever your organization is in its understanding of Virtual Distance, this book will show you how to manage the new risks to productivity and human well-being that arise with digital work. With this book, you'll learn how to reignite meaning into the workplace, fully accounting for the costs of virtualization and leading your teams to new heights.
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