Space, time and culture: new opportunities and challenges – part 2

Space, time and culture: new opportunities and challenges – part 2

In the first part of the article we talked about how companies continue to adopt social technologies for internalt use and how they can be used for good as well as manipulation. In the second part of the article we will be looking at how these technologies can be manipulated.
In the first part of the article we talked about how companies continue to adopt social technologies for internal use and how they can be used for good as well as manipulation. In the second part of the article we will be looking at how these technologies can be manipulated.

  • Technology challenges

Depending on the tools your team might have at their disposal you might meet manipulation under the following forms:

I have not received the email. This allows a negligent employee who doesn’t want to perform the task, to pretend that the e-mail with the job has been lost somewhere along the way. If there is a big time difference, he might be able to "save" his whole day. This type of situation includes both the employee saying that he received no email or on a lighter note, saying that it was considered as being spam by the email client.

Interference. This is an old and well-known way of manipulating. In this situation the employee constantly complains about the quality of communication during a phone conversation. This allows him to perform the task, then cite the fact that he did not understand it or got it wrong because of the poor quality of communication.

Internet does not work. This manipulation is universal, as many modern means of communication are dependent on the availability of the Internet. Therefore, this excuse can justify so much: non-compliance, not taking part in a meeting, the absence of a response to an urgent request, etc. This method works well if an employee works from home, where they can blame it on their provider. In the office, it is more difficult to do, since it can be checked.

  • Simulating work

Using the fact that the manager is in another office, most of the time the employee can engage in personal affairs, while simulating that he is very busy. Modern mobile gadgets easily allow us to create a sense of presence and of human engagement through active use of social networks, Twitter , chats, audio communication, etc. A feeling of activity can be created by generating a large flow of short messages from the simultaneous use of various communication means. Moreover, these messages require minimal effort on behalf of the one that produced it, but a lot of effort on behalf of the receiver. An example of this type of post is a question that seeks to clarify the task. And there can be a lot of questions.

Another version of this manipulation is to implement a large set of simple secondary tasks that occupy a substantial part of the working time and leave little time for basic tasks. It works particularly well when a new project starts, when you can justify spending a large amount of work on setting up the project configuration. A person that seeks to manipulate this type of situation could say something like this: "I cannot begin to work until I have a fully customized workspace". In this case a significant part of the time is spent not on the job, but waiting until the equipment is issued, the software is installed and so on.

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  • False ideas

This manipulation is used when the manager wants to convince employees that their ideas are not based on direct and honest arguments. This is also done when writing custom papers advocating ideas that are not based on any real facts, or directly contradict them. Such articles usually present a large number of references to authoritative sources and facts, creating the impression of objective reasoning.

But the conclusions from these facts are very subjective and would rarely resist scrutiny. When the text is overflowing with such conclusions, the reader gets the impression of the existence of weighty evidence for the author's ideas when there is actually none. For globally distributed teams, texts have a more useful informational load compared to conventional commands – and manipulating the text can have a significant impact, both on the team as a whole and its individual employees.

  • Security

At the head of this manipulation is deliberately limiting employee access to the information they need, citing stringent requirements for safety and the lack of reliable communication channels. This information is not particularly sensitive – however a manager can use his exclusive right to dosage information, which allows it, in particular, to raise their status among the staff.

  • I know what you do

With the advent of social technologies business life has become increasingly blended with the personal one. Quite a lot of people, for example, use Facebook for business and personal issues. This mixture creates grounds for manipulation, by giving greater access to those around you to your personal information. This information can be used in dozens of ways. For example, someone might say, relying on their alleged knowledge of your actions, that your actions are contrary to corporate ethics. They wouldn’t have any basis to back it up but in most cases simply accusing someone can foster a sense of guilt in them which can then be acted upon to manipulate.

  • Time is money

There are several ways this can be used for manipulation:

My working time was over, I went home. This manipulation is used when the employee and their manager are in different time zones – and there is a difference of a couple of hours between them. In this situation, a negligent employee normally spends the morning hours, counting crows, and becomes active only when their boss arrives. He goes home, he is always on time.

My working time is over, but I'm staying. A manipulation which is similar to the previous one, but more insidious. Employees might refer some family matters which they could not take care off because they had to do overtime. Sometimes managers fall into this trap and start giving perks like money, time off, privileges to make up for it.

We still have important things to do but you are living? Used when there is a large difference in time zones, when the boss comes to work much later than the employee. There is always urgent business that appears and must be handled by the end of the day. Conscience does not allow the worker to go home on time, all the more because the manager is still working, and expects that the tasks are completed.
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