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  1. Rising oil prices
  2. Falling economy
  3. Saving the planet

With July oil prices breaking $125 per barrel, the world economy looking rocky, and the threat of the polar ice-caps melting - working virtually is the only sensible response.

The rising oil prices appear to know no bounds sending fuel prices spiralling upwards. The days of cheap flights and two car households may well be numbered. We are already witnessing the impact of fuel prices on the budget airlines. If you are a planning a ski-ing or winter sun holiday this year you may be in for a nasty surprise, airlines are cutting the number of flights, Easyjet are reducing theirs by 12%, Ryanair by 20% and British Airways by 5%, furthermore British airways are increasing prices by 4%; all are quoting rising fuel prices are the driver.

The economic news in the UK is equally worrying. People are struggling to get mortgages, a loaf of bread costs £20 and we are all living in fear of the spectre of a credit crunch. Businesses are reporting a slowdown, and across the country you can hear the sound of individuals, and organisations, tightening their belts.

If that is not enough there is global warming too. To be honest there has been little sign of it in UK - until last week it has been a typically damp English summer, but scientists warn that action now is imperative, or we may all be living in waterfront homes by 2030. Organisations with any sense of corporate social responsibility are aiming to reduce their carbon footprint. A study by European Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO) and the World Wildlife Fund, found that if 5- 30 % of business trips in Europe were replaced by videoconferencing, the carbon emission savings could range from 5.6 to 33.5 million tonnes. According to researchers Wainhouse, the message is being heard in Europe, with over half of European companies saying that carbon emissions will be a major factor in determining travel decisions.

For the first time technological advances in video-conferencing are offering a viable alternative to air travel and face to face meetings. Life-size images of meeting participants which give a 'reality' feel, herald a new generation of video-collaboration. This previously struggling market sector has seen growth of 23% in 2007, although prices of around $10,000 still make this technology out of the reach of small businesses. There maybe another way, companies offering shared office space are making the investment so small companies don't have to, offering plasma screen video-conferencing facilities at a fraction of the price.

Using a shared office service to work and collaborate virtually, using the latest technology reduces travel costs, slashes overheads and cuts carbon emissions - it's a win-win-win.

Just one more thing - working virtually may solve many of today's salient business issues but it also presents challenges in terms interpersonal dynamics. Individuals, teams and organisations need to appreciate there are some fundamental differences between working traditionally and working virtually. Research has shown that the difference between low and high performing virtual workers is the activities they undertake. In the virtual environment, technology mediated interactions are more complex due to the reduced availability of social and non-verbal cues; research has shown workers can develop specific skills and behaviours to facilitate effective virtual interactions.

Business psychologists Bluestone Talent Management can help your business evolve, providing people development solutions that capitalise on the future. For information on our virtual/collaborative working programmes, including virtual leadership development and effective team collaboration:-

Contact: Rosalie @ Bluestone Talent Management on +44 (0)20 8334 8082 or Mobile: +44 (0)7854 569629
Email: rmillardevans@bluestonetm.com
Website: www.bluestonetm.com
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