Analyzing the Ethical Pitfalls of All-Virtual Workplaces

Digital workplaces bring with them the promise of an ever-expanding pool of potentially employable workers. An employee free to move about the country and maximize their purchasing power thanks to an entirely-virtual workplace need not fear expensive metropolitan areas or the crime, crowding and chaos big cities often develop.

I am an advocate of telecommuting and virtual workplaces, not only because many of the positions I've held in the past have been made available exclusively through telecommuting. The benefits of virtual workplaces over brick-and-mortar establishments seem clear enough upon even cursory inspection: Employers can pull from a much larger pool of potential workers, virtual workplaces create a natural need for collaboration and communication between levels of a company, reductions in commuting time lead not only to fewer traffic jam-related headaches, but also to an overall greener workplace.

Be that as it may, there are also major ethical dilemmas unique to virtual workplaces. The division of employee and employer creates major questions related to true productivity, employee honesty, and the proper division of labor among members of a virtual group. The technological boundaries to virtual work are by and large behind us, and even boutique companies can make use of free-to-use virtual worlds like OpenSim and Second Life for meeting purposes. But the ethical questions remain.


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PBS Frontline to Take a Deep Look at the Social and Cultural Impact of Virtual Worlds

PBS Frontline is one of the few mainstream news sources really taking a look at how virtual worlds are changing our politics, policy and culture. They've looked at everything from the rise of religious organizations in worlds like Second Life to the development of a digital-age telecommuting workforce, and each area of study has advanced the discussion on virtual worlds as a permanent fixture in our lives.

Now, on February 2nd, PBS will take a look at its broadest and most interesting topic so far. In a special event called Life on the Digital Frontier, Frontline takes a look at the many ways online interaction and virtual environments are changing our culture and social norms.

Read on to check out the program's trailer and find out more.

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