Dr. Karen Sobel Lojeski: What is Virtual Distance and How to Reduce it in the Workplace, Episode # 24

Are you familiar with the term “virtual distance?” On this episode of Masters of Leadership I interview special guest Dr. Karen Sovel Lejesky. Together we explore this common challenge of the modern workplace that you’re likely very aware of, but don’t know by that name. With a quarter century of leadership experience at companies such as Chase Manhattan and many more, she now leads her own company, Virtual Distance International. She has written two books on the subject, “Leading the Virtual Workforce” and “Uniting the Virtual Workforce”. In this episode she shares how she discovered virtual distance, its effects on the modern workforce, and her recommendations for how to become a master at reducing virtual distance.

[Tweet “Join Dr. Karen Sobel Lojeski on this episode of #MastersOfLeadership as she answers the question: what is #virtualdistance and how cane we reduce it in the #workplace. @EDhwan #GetBigThingsDone”]

What is Virtual Distance and how it is Affecting Your Team

Karen was working in corporate America as technology made its way into the work place in the early 2000’s. She recognized that this shift came with unintended consequences that were causing social disfunction between those working together on teams. She left corporate America to Study this phenomenon and discovered the measurable effects of Virtual Distance. You’re going to hear her experience and expertise shine through as she shares what Virtual Distance is, the impact it has, and how we can combat it, on this episode.

Virtual Distance: What is lost when human beings communicate through machines

Virtual Distance effects can show up in any workplace whether a team is physically in the same space or working together from remote locations around the globe. The resulting disunity effects financial performance, innovation, problem solving, and team productivity. In one example, Karen shares how her company Virtual Distance International helped to increase the overall stock value of a merger company by decreasing virtual distance in one specific department. The process was simple and has immediate value for how to improve the productivity of your team.

[Tweet “#VirtualDistance: What is lost when #human beings #communicate through machines? More than you might think. Join @VirtualDistance and @EDhwan on this episode of #MastersOfLeadership #GetBigThingsDone”]

How Virtual Distance Applies to Your Cross Cultural and International Teams

Research is being done to look at how virtual distance uniquely effects genders, generations and cultures. However right now much of that research contradicts itself. In our conversation, Karen shares how she is hesitant to look too much into cultural groups because it increases our reliance on stereotypes. Instead she recommends putting everyone into the same category: human beings. She says…

“We are all human beings who spend most of our days at work we need to understand each other as human beings first.”

Practical Tips for Reducing Virtual Distance and Increasing Your Teams Productivity

During this conversation, I asked Karen for her key recommendations for you and your teams. Her answers were surprisingly counterintuitive. She covers in detail these tips and many more – as well as very practical steps for implementation.

  1. Make extra effort to create shared context
  2. Practice techno-dexterity to keep communication clear
  3. As a leader, regularly share about yourself

What’s the main idea behind solving virtual distance to maximize top and bottom line impact? Again, Karen shares…

“If there is one thing to walk away with it is that people are not just brains on a stick. They are a full human being just like you.”

[Tweet “Practical tips for reducing #VirtualDistance and increasing your teams #productivity, on this episode of #MastersOfLeadership with @EDhwan and @VirtualDistance. #GetBigThingsDone”]

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:40] Karen’s surprising definition of leadership
  • [3:44] When Karen become interested in and discovered virtual distance
  • [8:30] What one company did to increased stock value by decreasing virtual distance
  • [12:00] How to reduce virtual distance by restoring shared context
  • [15:48] The effects of virtual distance on gender, generations, and cultural groups
  • [21:10] Tips on how to become a master of reducing virtual distance

Resources & People Mentioned

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[Tweet “What is #VirtualDistance and how it is affecting your team? Find out from Dr. Karen Sobel Lojeski on this episode of #MastersOfLeadership with @EDhwan. @VirtualDistance #GetBigThingsDone”] [Tweet “How #VirtualDistance applies to your cross #cultural and #international teams – and what you can do about its negative impact. Join @EDhwan and @VirtualDistance for this episode of #MastersOfLeadership. #GetBigThingsDone”]

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