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The Future of Virtual Worlds

There was a time when the artisan craftsman lived above his workshop and the agricultural worker walked to her fields. By the mid twentieth century the agricultural worker's life was no more, replaced by industrial and office workers commuting to work by car.

Less than fifty years later the internet revolution allowed business documents and currency to move from company to company on a digital highway, unfortunately the workers sat tail to tail in congested traffic, frustrated in their endeavor to catch up with their work which had been delivered to their office at the speed of light.

The Paradigm Shift

At the beginning of the Twenty First century it was already possible that the physical office work place could be moved into the digital realm using a Virtual World platform. however implementing them for business use required a paradigm shift in business thinking. The pioneering work of Linden Lab's Second Life had demonstrated that everything was in place for transforming the workplace and Sun Microsystems Project Wonderland and Microsoft's Blue Mars further demonstrated the need for a water cooler where employees who worked remotely could gather to exchange ideas.

Unfortunately business had always based it's concerns on 'presence' and while 'clocking on' was rarely referred to anymore everyone knew that the essential measure of productivity was the employees physical presence in the building. While the digital world was increasingly operating asynchronously and companies increasingly dealt with their customers remotely, with regard to their own workers 'being in the building' was still the largest measure of productivity

The Henley School of Business Report "Knowledge in Action (No, 3) "Sharing Knowledge in the Virtual World" spells it out very simply "Technology is increasingly enabling geographically-separate employees to work together as if they were in the same office."

The paradigm shift required is that instead of a focus on presence, results are the only real measurement of worth and management must begin to trust her workers to work remotely.



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