Virtual Distance Institute

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History of Virtual Distance

About VDI > About Dr. Lojeski > History of VDI > Research

Incessant email, unending strings of conference calls, talking with people half-way around the globe whom you have never met, responsible for worldwide coordination and communications, extensive virtual collaboration, and more...sound familiar?

That was my life in 1992 when I was working as a District Manager for Stratus Computer, Inc.

So I decided to take a hiatus from the "World of Work" and pursue a doctorate to uncover answers to questions that literally kept me up at night like:

* Why, after 10 years of technological innovation were people in the workplace feeling increasingly displaced?

* How could it be that with virtually no physical limitations on where and when one worked, many of my colleagues were more stressed than ever?

* What was causing me to feel that productivity was in fact decreasing and not increasing as the popular press would have me believe?

* Why were people so unhappy?

* What was the cause?

However, much to my surprise I found that research in this area had not unearthed any illuminating insights. The empirical work that had been done up until then was based mainly on samples of students, and not professionals. Topic area analysis was too thinly sliced to shed much light on the complex 21st centruy workplace.

So with interview guides in hand, I spent the next year and a half, talking to hundreds of people from executives to individual contributors alike. Thousands of hours were spent in conversations and analyses around what real-life professional people found most challenging in the new Digital Age; where virtual communication and collaboration had usurped much of the face-to-face and more personal exchanges on which social norms and behaviors had been built over time immemorial.

And so, Virtual Distance was born.

We found out a lot about what was happening and why. While physical distances still posed challenges, it was social and emotional distances that were exponentially rising with each new collaboration tool introduced to the market. Ironically -- as the world shrank in terms of communication reach, huge ruptures between individuals were beginning to appear at an increasing rate.

We also found a way to measure this phenomenon in the Virtual Distance Index -- an approach that was needed to capture the imagination of right- and left-brainers alike. The Virtual Distance Index made the conceptual model an even more powerful tool for those caught in these breaches.

Once given a name, and a formula for how to overcome it, people from all walks of corporate life began to embrace it. Each time I spoke at a conference, even before finishing my degree, audience members would tell me how they found themselves somewhat liberated by the language of Virtual Distance. They shared personal stories about how Virtual Distance and the lexicon we had developed, allowed them to explicitly express the visceral yet ephemeral disturbances that pulsated in every organizational and societal situation they had become accustomed to. They asked how they could use it in their companies to break down communication barriers, reduce Virtual Distance, increase productivity, enhance innovation, and find greater satisfaction and happiness in their work.

And so, Virtual Distance International was born.


Welcome to the Virtual Distance Institute!

Welcome to the Virtual Distance Institute!

We are a private online community of like-minded executives, managers and individual contributors facing increasingly significant challenges in the remote workforce and who want to champion best practices of Virtual Distance, leadership, and innovation in their organizations.

The Virtual Distance Institute is led by the industry expert on Virtual Distance, Dr. Karen Sobel Lojeski and powered by Virtual Distance International (VDI)

We look forward to your active participation!

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