Competencies needed for virtual workers
Botha, Theresa Adrian
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The changing world of work that we live in is characterised by forming part of globalisation and virtualness. The previous era managers focused on how to make money and how this money can work for them. The changing world of work is characterised by global competitiveness in delivering quality products quicker and cheaper. Globalisation presents continuous advancements in technology, which requires a new mindset. These technological advancements have a profound effect on culture, training and management of staff. This brings about change in flexible working arrangements and the traditional office made space within certain organisations for virtual offices. The move towards virtualness causes companies to work more closely with their customers to be able to coordinate rapid changes in products (Schuh, Millarg & Gorannson, 1998; Weissenfeld, Fisscher, Pearson & Brockhoff, 200 1). The financial institution referred to in this study was also driven by globalisation and technological advancements to re-engineer the current way in which they do business. It became evidently clear that there was a need for a shift towards virtualness, which called for the identifying of relevant competencies; needed by employees for working in a virtual environment. These competencies will enable the organisation to select the right employees and provide them with information that could be utilised in training the current virtual employees according to the competencies identified. The objectives of this research were firstly to conduct a job analysis to determine the important competencies needed by virtual workers, in a specific job at a financial institution in South Africa. Secondly to compare the current competencies of the virtual workers (who took part in the research) with the competencies identified by the job analysis to be important for this specific job. Thirdly to determine the skills required for virtual workers and compare these skills with the skills ranked by the current virtual workers to be important. Fourthly to identify how these virtual workers experienced the effect of virtualness on their performance. Lastly to make recommendations regarding future training and selection purposes. A survey design (cross-sectional) was used to determine competencies needed by virtual workers for a specific job at a financial institution in South Africa. The study population consisted of (N= 71) employees in a virtual job at a financial institution in South Africa. The Work Profile Systems (WPS), Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ), Performance Assessment Questionnaire (PAQ) and a Skills Audit (SA) were administered. Results of the research indicated that 44% of the study population exhibits the competencies needed by virtual workers as indicated by the Inventory of Management Competencies (IMC) Profile of the WPS. The results of the Performance Assessment Questionnaire (PAQ) indicated that the current virtual workers experienced the greatest impact of virtualness on improving the attainment of personal goals, as well as improving the achievement of organisational goals. The results from the Skills Audit (SA) identified skills that were essential for virtual workers in a specific job within a virtual environment, according to the feedback received from the current virtual workers. They compared favourably with the skills identified by literature as being important. Recommendations to the organisation and for future research have been made and limitations were also discussed.
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