Most people spend a disproportionate amount of their communication time, in electronics –– we text, instant message, or email before we pick up a phone.
So why is understanding the virtual world important? Because it does affect how teams and groups work together and greatly impacts our ability to develop trust. Virtual working is good –– it connects us to people and institutions with which we would never know in the past. It opens up information that would have been inaccessible previously. As Wise (2013) quoted the work of Gilbert and Karahalios, “The world is no longer small, but is now very small and very flat, as everyone is now accessible and total strangers are now closely trusted with the most delicate.”
We also need to be aware that virtual working is no longer a generational issue. Adults are now communicating through social media, with greater than seventy percent of adults over the age of eighteen using Facebook on a regular basis, and fifty-two percent of adults use multiple social media sites.
And the number of adults over the age of thirty that regularly use social media resources is growing every year, as shown in Chart 2.1. So what does this mean when building a team online? It means we need to be smart about how we approach a virtual world. If someone isn’t on social media, this person really won’t exist for most people.
Novelist Jim C. Hines did a survey of two hundred forty authors and discovered that the average age that authors publish and sell their first novel is thirty-six (Hines, 2010). Interestingly, BBC News did a study of successful authors to discover the best age for writing a novel is fifty (BBC, 2015). What does this large conglomeration of data mean for an author? It means we need to be smart and we need to be creative. Communicating and networking in a virtual world requires that we use every means available to reach our network of friends and teammates –– and very importantly, our readers. Use multiple means of communicating every message to bridge the differences in media use by generation.
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