In a large financial services company located in the NY/Metro area, employees were required to 'punch a clock' every day.  Working away from the office was not allowed - mostly (only in special cases).  Each morning, employees would swipe their card through the turn style mechanism and do the same on their way out.  And yet - even though 90% of employees were colocated with the other 10% being outsourced resources - Virtual Distance was costing millions in late projects and opportunity costs.

 

Executives were baffled.  Before deploying the Virtual Distance methodology and measuring tools, they scratched their heads trying to figure out why people were having so much trouble working together and getting most projects done on time.  When the Virtual Distance Index was calculated, it turned out that one of the most significant problems was Social Distance.  Employees felt that recognition only came from formal title and status and not, as Virtual Distance methods would suggest, from status associated with contributions to the team and work.  This led to major misunderstandings on how employees felt they were viewed by senior management and this in turn led to poor communications across the board.  Unsung heroes was another major issue.  People working hard all through the project were never recognized for their monumental acheivements.  Only more 'visible' personnel, appearing to come in at the last minute, were showcased.  Job satisfaction was in the dumps and employees felt 'isolated' from each other and management - even though they were located within three floors of a high-rise office building.

 

Combined with major Cultural Distance issues, a growth strategy heavily weighted on merger and acquisition activity, and high levels of Communications Distance, the company experienced a lot of Affinity and Operational Distance that linked directly to lower performance; most strikingly, financial losses from projects that were late and opportunity costs on lost competitive opportunities like new product roll-outs.

 

This month we report on some of the details of this case and how Virtual Distance strategies reduced Social and Cultural Distance, raising morale and resulting in significant performance improvements.  Come join the conversation at: http://www.virtualdistanceinstitute.com/forum/topics/case-study-so-...

 

Does Social Distance create issues in your organization?  Is it difficult for employees to assess people on anything other than titles when most of their time is spent communicating via electronic devices?  Do virtual workers know anything more about the higher-ups than their altitude?

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Tags: communication, critical, cultural, distance, factors, operational, performance, social, success, virtual

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