The use of communication tools applied to project management in flexible working environments
University of Wales
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The ongoing focus on cost saving within today's business environment has compelled employers to implement a range of measures aimed at improving operational efficiency. One such measure is the drive to reduce office space, encouraging employees to adopt the flexible working concept. This often takes the form of "hot desking", working from client sites or ultimately working from home, through gaining access to their work over the Internet and communicating with colleagues via email and telephone. The discipline of project management is no different and has to adapt to these new working environments. Computer-mediated communication plays a key role in this flexible working strategy but the level of satisfaction associated with the tools available can vary. Although computer-mediated communication has undoubtedly allowed flexible working to become more feasible for employers, it does not necessarily fulfil the needs of teams involved with projects. This study, therefore, aims to evaluate the communication methods and tools available to project management teams, in a quest to find out whether they satisfy the needs of flexible working teams. Through primary research (questionnaire survey, interviews and daily diaries) it is demonstrated that the use of communication tools applied to project management in flexible working environments is governed by three key elements. These elements are: the purpose of the communication, the nature of the information being transmitted (level of complexity, degree of urgency and level of formality), and the personal preference of the individual (based on personality, past experience and personal management). All of these are encapsulated under macro-management. Furthermore, the communication tools did satisfy the needs of project management teams operating in flexible working environments, but computer-mediated communication, although flexible and practical, are shown to be no substitute for face-to-face communication.
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