Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 14 Number 4 1998 pp. 7-28

Communication and Coordination in the Virtual Office

Fritz, Mary Beth Watson, Narasimhan, Sridhar, and Hyeun-Suk, Rhee

ABSTRACT: As information technology becomes more pervasive, the structure of the traditional work environment is changing. A number of alternatives are emerging where work is performed at remote locations. Existing work practices and managerial strategies are often not appropriate in this environment. In particular, traditional office communication with coworkers and management, which is often dependent on physical proximity, is disrupted. In this study, individual satisfaction with office communication in the telecommuting and conventional work environments is compared through a study of telecommuters and a comparison group of non-telecommuters in nine firms. We investigate the influence of certain organizational factors, such as job characteristics, IT support, and coordination methods, on satisfaction with office communication in the two work environments. We find telecommuters report higher satisfaction with office communication. Our findings indicate that task predictability, IT support, and electronic coordination have similar influences for both groups. We discuss implications of these findings for research and practice.

Key words and phrases: distributed work, distributed work environments, electronic coordination, organizational communication, telecommuting