Dr. Wendy Anson
Fellow since Oct 2016
The construct of work engagement has received much attention in the literature over the last two decades; however, limited research has been conducted regarding virtual workers and work engagement. Advances in Information Communication Technology (ICT) have provided increased flexibility in working arrangements to employers and workers. Media-rich communications, such as voice/video communications provided by Adobe Connect, are known to be more effective at communicating complex information and ideas while less rich media communications, such as e-mail, have been found to be less effective. Managerial coaching in the virtual work environment has also received limited research. The research problem considered in this study was if e-leaders’ choice of electronic communication media and or managerial coaching behaviors are related to work engagement in individual virtual workers.
The methodology used in the study was a quantitative correlational approach. A non-experimental design using survey data was incorporated. The population of interest was virtual workers who work five days per week without in person interaction with a supervisor. A sample of 203 virtual workers who worked virtually the equivalent of five days without in person interaction with a supervisor was obtained through Qualtrics Panels. Sample data was analyzed with a factorial ANOVA using SPSS. Findings from the study were consistent with prior research in traditional work environments in that there was a significant main effect for e-leaders coaching behaviors upon work engagement in virtual workers. However, with an observed statistical power of 70%, this accounted for only 4% of the variance in scores for virtual workers. There was not a significant main effect or interaction effect for e-leader’s use of electronic communication upon work engagement in virtual workers. An unexpected outcome of the study was e-leaders’ reliance upon text-based communication.