Entering the Virtual World Environment
I entered the Communications field, first and foremost, because I enjoy writing. And as a writer, I am used to spending hours in solitude staring at a blank screen and a stuttering cursor, waiting for me to deliver words to the page.
I am, however, not a solitary person. I am talkative, open and friendly (or at least I try to be!), which makes a writing lifestyle challenging at times.
I, like most people, need people and communication in my life. I enjoy talking with friends, family and colleagues about politics, sports, weather…and the latest Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes scandal. And I value the lasting personal and professional relationships that come as a result.
At my last job, I was flanked by rows of cubicles and surrounded by dozens of people every single moment of every single day. At any given moment, I could hang over a cubicle wall and strike up a conversation with someone about just about anything, whether or not Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Anniston were going to get married anytime soon, for example.
When I was considering joining the v-Fluence team, a predominantly virtual firm with no cubicles or dedicated office space, I thought about those conversations I had my previous job and knew that this environment would be different. Potentially working for a virtual company with employees in several cities across the globe, I would spend my physical time alone in my apartment (or whatever space I chose). Though I would be in constant contact with my team members through e-mail, IM and phone calls, there would be no cubicle walls to hang over.
I took the virtual company’s work environment into careful consideration when I was making my decision. Could I survive staring at a blank screen and blinking cursor all day? Could my co-workers and I have a meaningful conversation about the Floyd Landis scandal over e-mail and IM?
I took a chance and accepted the position and immediately found that working for a virtual company was and is very different from what I was accustomed to. Each person on the v-Fluence team is what I call a super-communicator, which is essential for this type of environment. We have to work hard to stay on the same page every single day because we can’t see if someone is having a bad day or if he or she is overwhelmed with work. It is up to every individual to create a connection so that our working and personal relationships can grow in a way that adds value to the company and the work we do. And I have grown to love and appreciate this part of the job, and the virtual business model’s uniqueness, quickly.
In the end, I have realized that a good, successful working environment for any company does not depend on its use of cubicles, offices or otherwise. It comes down to the people and the connections they forge, no matter how far away they may be. If your company has a culture of openness and communication, and the team members work hard to maintain that culture every day, working in a virtual company is no different than working in a bricks-and-mortar one.
Except the cubicle walls are a little more spread out.