Communicating virtually in today’s business world.
The world of business is becoming increasingly globalised as we travel through the first few years of the twenty-first century. This trend towards globalisation has been accompanied by dramatically rapid progress in the field of information communication technology. These two phenomena, together with an increasing awareness of the environmental impact of large scale travel, have created great opportunities for businesses. From establishing their ecological credentials by not sending their senior staff on long plane journeys, to allowing them to make considerable cost savings because they don’t have to spend money on business class travel and expensive hotels.
The technology we have at our disposal allows us to be in touch at all times of every day and night, to be updated and alerted to every micro-change in the economic environment, to be ‘instant’. We have the hardware (our laptops, tablets, smart phones) and the software (short messaging services, web-based interactive conversation capabilities, social networking sites to allow us to post, receive and manipulate personal information, electronic mail services allowing us to respond in a timely way and attach documents, audio files, video files and portable document files as well as links to a plethora of other resources floating around in the ether.
Many social and anthropological commentators argue that there has been a paradigm shift in the way we interact with each other at a very fundamental level. They also posit that this shift in interaction, largely influenced by two factors – immediacy and availability – is having significant effect on the way our brains process information and the extent to which we are able to concentrate on a task for more than a limited period of time. The jury is still out as to whether the technology explosion has, overall, had a positive or negative effect. There are strong and persuasive arguments on both sides.
What is clear is that the rules of the communication game are changing. Although we have been using phones and email communication for some time, it is becoming clear that not only do we communicate all the time virtually on a one-to-one basis, but meetings, presentations, negotiations and so on are taking place on a regular basis. This means refining (and even redefining) how we deal with concepts like leadership, team-building, relationship management and alignment to team goals, to name but a few.