Skip to main content

Uniting the Virtual Workforce: Transforming Leadership and Innovation in the Globally Integrated Enterprise



Uniting the Virtual Workforce: Transforming Leadership and Innovation in the Globally Integrated Enterprise

Karen Sobel Lojeski, Richard R. Reilly

ISBN: 978-0-470-89343-2 June 2010 224 Pages


Praise for Uniting the Virtual Workforce

"Uniting the Virtual Workforce offers much-needed guidance on how to navigate the largely unmapped territory of virtual work environments in the global economy. The authors do an outstanding job of presenting how organizations should address the challenges of virtual workforces so as to reap the huge potential benefits of increased growth, productivity, and innovation."
-C. Warren Axelrod, PhD, Chief Privacy Officer and Business Information Security Officer, U.S. Trust, and author of Outsourcing Information Security

"Lojeski and Reilly bring us something that readers of business books so rarely get-no nonsense practical guidance on how to manage distance, especially where it most often serves as an impediment to working effectively.Ê If you interface with widely dispersed team members who rarely see one another and communicate by virtue of impersonal electronics, you may expect to find this book provocative, counterintuitive, and above all, exciting. It gives all of us who have to struggle, while working with talent stretched across distance, hope, that maybe there are ways to do this right!"
-Patrick J. McKenna, author of First Among EqualsÊ

"A must-read for global corporate executives who manage geographically dispersed job sharing teams. Practical strategies for preventing productivity loss and optimizing innovation. The authors pull no punches in showing the real downsides to the virtual work phenomenon; they have done a great service for us all."
-Jeff Saperstein, author of Creating Regional Wealth in the Innovation Economy

"Uniting the Virtual Workforce charts the course for competing in the twenty-first century by tapping into the powers of virtual work. Any manager who ignores the virtual workforce is underperforming, and any company or organization that does not appreciate virtual work is already at a competitive disadvantage. Karen and Dick have tapped into a key ingredient in the recipe for global growth."
-Jerry MacArthur Hultin, President, Polytechnic University, and former Under Secretary of the Navy

"Authors Sobel Lojeski and Reilly have provided a useful primer for the harried executive striving for productivity improvements while seeing the workload expand and the workforce disperse. Using conceptual definitions of Physical, Operational, and Affinity Distance to describe the multifaceted dimensions of building teams of people to work effectively together, the authors construct a very powerful set of metrics for a manager to improve the capability of his or her workgroup, no matter where it resides or how it is composed. The book is rich in anecdotes and specific studies that illustrate the concepts in an engaging, pertinent, and easy-to-understand manner. In an age of outsourcing, offshoring, and decentralizing groups of people who have to get things done together, reading this small book will repay itself many times over."
-Charles House, Director, Media X Lab at Stanford University, and former Director of the Societal Impact of Technology, Intel Corporation

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction: The Road to Virtual Distance 1


Chapter 1: Redefining Distance 9

Chapter 2: Meeting Virtual Distance 25

Chapter 3: Measuring Virtual Distance 51

Chapter 4: Mapping Virtual Distance 71

Chapter 5: Managing Virtual Distance 89


Chapter 6: Redefining Teams 109

Chapter 7: Ambassadorial Leadership 123

Chapter 8: Re-imagining Innovation 143

Chapter 9: Technology: The Elephant in the Room 161

Chapter 10: The Future 187

Index 199

"Packed with case studies, in this new era of new devices and applications, this book is well worth reading." (, July 2008)

"The authors coin a term, "virtual distance", to refer to the feelings of separation engendered by communicating by e-mail, instant messaging, audio conferencing and other tools. If you've ever had a misunderstanding with a colleague via e-mail, you've experienced virtual distance. The authors provide solid advice and a good starting point for managers who want to figure out why their virtual teams aren't communicating well or aren't delivering strong results." (, May 16, 2008)