Definition: A virtual workplace is a workplace that is not located in any one physical space. Rather, several workplaces are technologically connected (via the Internet) without regard to geographic boundaries. A virtual workplace decreases unnecessary costs by integrating technology processes, people processes, and online processes. History: With information technology playing a greater role in the daily operations of organizations today, virtual workplaces are beginning to replace the traditional office environment of cubicles and office buildings. International organizations have seen a significant increase in business in the past decade due to the globalization and widespread use of technology. By 2008, it is estimated that 41 million corporate employees worldwide will work at least one day per week virtually. As well, 65% of virtual team members have said they have never been involved in an effective team-building meeting, and 36% of the team members had never met their coworkers face-to-face. Types of Virtual Workplaces: Individual virtual workplaces vary in how they apply existing technology to facilitate team cooperation. Three popular approaches are: 1. Telecommuting: the availability and use of communications technologies, such as the internet, to work in an offsite location. 2. Hot desk environment: Employees are not given individual desks; rather each day employees are allocated to a desk where they can access the internet, email and computer network files. This is similar to hotels: recognizing that employees spend more time at the clients’ office rather than at the employer’s office, employees are not assigned a permanent desk. 3. Virtual team: the collaboration of employees working closely together and in constant contact but are physically located in different parts of the world. Virtual Workplace Communication Tools Conference Calls, NetMeeting, WebEx, VPN, Skype, TelePresence, MPK20 The new workplace dimensions Organizations must address the new workplace challenges across all dimensions of the enterprise. â—�Strategy: The workplace strategy, vision and goals are trans-forming from an afterthought of the business and IT strategy to an imperative of the enterprise’s growth and productivity objectives. â—�Processes: The processes, information, and application work-loads are transforming from siloed to cross-functional. Workers will use search and social networks and collaboration tools to find help from the web or repositories or forums or other users. Constant business analytics, historical and predictive, will need to be readily available on mobile and other devices. â—�Organization: The organizational structure, roles, responsibility-ties, culture, and management systems are transforming from static to agile. Workers will be able to perform tasks anywhere, anytime. â—�Technology: The technology, in particular end-user devices, is transforming from corporate-mandated PCs to a bring-your-own-device model. The underlying technology infrastructures changing from a fixed to a virtual environment creating virtual desktops, with applications and information being hosted at centrally managed locations versus being managed at the desktop. Benefits Benefits for enabling a new workplace for your organization fall into three important categories: business growth through innovation reduced costs and increased efficiency and productivity growth via collaboration and interconnection. Business growth through innovation â—�New collaborative capabilities, delivered via the cloud, will allow expansion of the workplace environment to include the contributions of employees, vendors, partners, customers, even analysts and social media influencers. Multichannel, anytime access can help improve the customer experience at every stage of the customer lifecycle. Workers’ enhanced access to real-time and task-relevant information can help increase opportunities for innovative ideas to take shape and be executed. â—�Reduced costs and increased efficiency Network decoupling and cloud deployment can help reduce the costs associated with network management and timely dissemination of information. Cloud deployment can also make implementing updates and patches quicker, easier and more cost-efficient. Providing data via the cloud can make data protection more robust. Increased use of open-source operating Systems and applications can help drive down purchasing and licensing costs. Key challenges For many organizations, enabling and supporting today’s agile and connected workplace comes with a set of important challenges. â—�Complexity: More devices mean more systems to coordinate, more applications to support, more connections to be maintained. â—�Security and compliance: Organizations now need to assure security of data and intellectual property–and compliance with corporate, regulatory and governmental rules–over a greatly expanded range of network connections. Also of concern are maintaining security and compliance, and separation of personal and enterprise data, on smart devices owned by individual workers, along with collaboration that takes place in online public forums. â—�Cost management: As complexity and device choice grows, organizations need to find more cost-effective ways to supply the needed infrastructure. â—�Loss of control: Organizations need new ways to maintain and increase service levels, while delivering services to more devices than ever. â—�Issues related to different Cultural communications â—�Support: Organizations are under increasing pressure to support the devices workers are choosing to work with and the new ways workers expect to access that support, such as self-help, communities and automated support