Boeing Frontiers
May 2002 
Volume 01, Issue 01 
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
New and Notable
Working virtually becoming a reality

Patty AngeloffBoeing people are constantly on the move.

We move when our organization changes location, we travel when we need to work with colleagues, customers and suppliers, and we move from job to job when we accept new career opportunities.

Shared Services Group is formulating a plan that could change all that. It's a plan that could alter traditional thinking about where we need to be to get our work done.

The Virtual Workplace plan is one of six elements of the New Business Model that Shared Services is developing to transform the way it conducts business and provides services.

"Virtual Workplace is not a new idea," said Armond Friend, Information Services Strategy senior manager in Wichita, Kan., and the Virtual Workplace team leader. "But, so far, Boeing is behind other business leaders - IBM, Sun Microsystems, AT&T - when it comes to executing a comprehensive virtual work plan. We'd done our research on small projects and organizations here and there. Now we have the data we need to bring flexible, mobile work solutions into the mainstream."

This month, Friend and his team expect to recommend virtual work opportunities for Shared Services Group, gain management approval and begin implementing. By August, they will unveil a companywide plan for business-unit leaders to consider incorporating into 2003 business plans.

"I've seen terrific examples around Boeing where organizations are using Virtual Workplace as an effective and documented business strategy," said Bonnie Soodik, Shared Services president. "We can learn from those who have proven business success in this area. If we use our physical facilities more inventively, provide leading-edge computing services and e-enable our processes, we can bring people together anytime, wherever they are in the world."

Realizing that working from multiple locations will not fit everyone's job, the Virtual Workplace team will identify high leverage opportunities for virtual work based on

  • Facilities
  • Jobs performed within a building,
  • Types of equipment being used.

The team will look at the options - telecommuting, hoteling, lean office, satellite office, virtual teaming - and determine what combination works best for the organizations and people within a particular building.

"We've got the tools to make this happen," Friend said. "The technology is available today - laptops, cell phones, e-mail, remote access, security, to name a few - and it certainly will continue to evolve. What has slowed us down are the cultural issues. People may think, for example, that it means working from home, when it really involves a lot of different options."

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block is the manager who gauges productivity by who's in the office instead of measuring output through well-defined goals and expectations.

"We must define 'work' as a verb, not a place," said Friend.

Jobs tend to have individual tasks and collaborative ones. Writing software code, handling e-mail, analyzing budget data can be done almost anywhere. Creative sessions and customer interaction require synergy and collaboration.

To accommodate both work methods, a virtually fluent organization would recognize that

  • Wherever you are is the office
  • People must be equipped for mobility
  • On-site work space is allocated by need and process
  • Work space must be flexible, adaptable and connected.

"Boeing is transforming itself to stay competitive in the world's global and connected markets," Friend said. "Shared Services is part of the change. We are taking these steps to provide the company with services in the most reliable, responsive and productive ways possible. Creating a flexible workplace is one of the crucial first steps on this renewed journey toward long-term success."


More information about virtual work is available at the Boeing Virtual Office Website:

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