Introduction: The Road to Virtual Distance
In 2002, anecdotal evidence was mounting that people were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their work and employers. This news came at the same time that the most sophisticated and easily accessible communication tools, designed to increase collaboration all over the world, were being adopted. The widely accepted belief at this time was that information and communication technology (ICT) had unlimited benefits to corporations and individuals alike. It was well reported, for example, that information technology (IT) had accounted for a major increase in productivity. Between the years 1974-1995 labor productivity growth averaged 1.4 percent per year then rose to nearly 3 percent on average between 1995 and 2006.1
Why, then, were individuals and teams struggling with significant communications problems and experiencing decreased satisfaction with work when, in theory, the opposite should have been true? This question began a journey that we continue to travel today. It led us to the discovery of Virtual Distance and its incredible impact on our work and personal lives.
The first step on this journey was to see what information we could find concerning virtual teams and related subjects, including “computer-mediated communications” and dozens of other tangential topics. We found that there was very little research available on real-life workplace factors in global enterprises. Information about the worldwide organization and virtual ...