Managing Workplace Relations at a Distance

By: Derek Wallace  

This paper considers how it might be possible to enhance the relational quality of communication in online work contexts. My starting point is to agree that relational possibilities are more restrictive and frequently more contrived in computer mediated communication (CMC) compared with face-to-face situations, but to disagree that this means CMC is an impoverished mode of communication. What CMC lacks in relational immediacy can be compensated for, and this compensatory behaviour can become second nature once the need for it is recognised and measures are practiced. The paper draws on sociolinguistic research (particularly that of politeness theory and the "rapport management" framework of Helen Spencer-Oatey) to explore the comparative potentials of a range of online communication tools and develop a framework for their complementary deployment. The discussion is based in the experiences of an international network of researchers established with the purpose of exploring the affordances of a range of tools in the course of building their online association.

CMC, Workplace, Politeness
Media Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Derek Wallace

Senior Lecturer, Linguistics, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
Wellington, New Zealand