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Virtual management increases managers' workload

Virtual availability cannot replace presence.
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Johanna Saarinen, who will be defending her dissertation in Aalto University’s School of Business, investigated virtual management in her doctoral thesis in the field of Organization and Management.

'Virtual management increases managers' pressures and workload in multinational companies. The work of managers is clearly more difficult in global corporations where team members work around the world in different time zones and diverse cultures in comparison with teams whose members primarily work physically close to one another', Saarinen says.

Based on the doctoral study, even the most high-end communication technology cannot replace meeting face-to-face. A lot of important communication also takes place in corridors and around coffee makers. It is good to remotely manage concrete tasks related to work assignments, but it is better to handle many issues, for instance, those related to the work community, in face-to-face communication. Presence was considered to build trust between the manager and the employee. Transferring energy and motivating employees was also considered difficult in remote teams. Saarinen interviewed 36 managers for her doctoral study.

'It was also apparent in my doctoral research that regardless of the fact that the young generations, the so-called diginatives, are skilled in using communication technology, they still need a lot of personal support, feedback and presence. My research also confirmed that technology often fails and connection is often broken in virtual meetings, which makes working difficult", Saarinen explains.

Managers suffer from constant feeling of insufficiency

According to the doctoral study, managers often struggle with tough and often superhuman expectations. The expectations come from upper and lower levels, particularly to middle management. The goals set are difficult to reach and a high quality of leadership is expected at the same time. Employees demand the managers to be present as well as coach and listen to them. Managers also expect a lot from themselves. Indeed, the managers participating in the study felt unable to provide as good managerial work as they would like and what is expected of them.

'Nevertheless, managers are true everyday survivors who work long hours, constantly in hurry and under pressure. All in all, efficient time management and timetables as well as creating own best practices help them in coping with both their demanding jobs as well as combining work and family', Johanna Saarinen says.

Public examination of doctoral dissertation

The doctoral dissertation of Johanna Saarinen in the field of Organization and Management, 'Managing global virtual teams' will be publicly examined at the Aalto University School of Business on Friday, 7 October 2016. The public examination will take place on 7 October at 12 noon in the Assembly Hall of the Main Building (1st floor) at the Aalto University School of Business, (Runeberginkatu 14–16, Helsinki). Professori Peter Zettinig will act as opponent and Professor Janne Tienari as custos.

 

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