Technology: The Elephant in the Room
So far, we’ve talked a lot about how human qualities and work conditions create Virtual Distance. You may be wondering at this point about Virtual Distance and its relationship to the elephant in the room—technology. We include both hardware and software in our use of the word technology, and it’s what makes virtual work possible. It’s an understatement to say that virtual work has increased rapidly. It’s projected, for example, that the percentage of virtual workers in the United States alone will rise to over 15% in urban areas in just a few years.1 New hardware and software solutions have facilitated this change and continue to be developed at a staggering pace. By the time this book is in print, there will undoubtedly be more new products available to connect us with one another. Trying to make sense of all this is a difficult proposition, but by using Virtual Distance concepts, we can provide a framework for thinking about which solutions may be right for any given set of circumstances and when they can be used most effectively.
The key to working together effectively, of course, is communication. The Internet, phone, and audio and videoconferencing have created a diverse set of tools that can be used to facilitate communications and collaborations across distances ranging from thousands of miles to a few meters. How and when we use these tools, however, depends on a number of different factors, but two of the most important are what ...

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