Managing ePresence in a Global Electronically Connected World
Hanna, Donald E.
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Electronic communications have enabled individuals to communicate with friends, family members, business associates, and colleagues at a distance in ways that were unimagined even a decade ago, when the Internet was well along in its initial development. Engineering projects are increasingly conducted in teams of individuals who live and work in different cities, regions, and, in a rapidly increasing number of instances, time zones and countries. Technologies such as cell phones, internet voice over IP, and low-band-width interactive video are all contributing to this trend. Software making these technologies more flexible, interactive, and available are extending the capacity to be present and accessible to home and work 24 hours per day, seven days a week, if one chooses to do so! In the future, it may be that working virtually and 7x24 is less and less of a choice, and more and more an expectation of others, if not an employment requirement. And on the other side of the coin, individuals may find that the increased flexibility of scheduling and location may be valuable compensation for the loss of privacy and personal control of activity that will inevitably result from these developments. This paper will address the challenge of managing virtual presence in such a complex and rapidly changing environment. The paper will: 1. Assess both the opportunities and challenges of virtual presence; 2. Identify strategies for managing virtual presence in the workplace; 3. Suggest ways in which boundaries between work and home, between personal and professional, can be productively and positively maintained; and 4. Identify current tools, software, and techniques that are helpful in working virtually.