Are you familiar with this term? Wikipedia doesn't actually define it. I would define virtual presence, in terms of instant messaging technologies (i.e., Skype, AIM, MSN Chat, Google Chat, Facebook chat, etc...), as your availability, and sometimes willingness, to engage in virtual conversation. You'll note that I have not included e-mail in my examples because e-mail is considered an asynchronous form of communication.
So how do I manage my virtual presence on these days I work remotely and travel? Oftentimes, I am logged into our internal chat system (Spark) and onto Skype. However, I'm continually changing my status on both when performing various activities. Here's a brief summary of how I manage my virtual presence.
- When I arrive in the office, I log onto both programs and set my status as available. Spark has an option that says "Available - Free to Chat" but I always select available. I can't think of a time where I was "Free to Chat". I have too much work to do.
- When I'm on the phone or on a webinar, Skype is set to "Do Not Disturb" and Spark is set to "On the Phone - Busy". When I finish up with the call, I often move immediately to "Do Not Disturb" because I'm wrapping up my notes and finishing my thoughts.
- When I'm in the office but at a meeting in a conference room, someone else's office, or I'm having a meeting in my office, both Skype and Spark are set to "Away"
- An additional rule that I follow; don't chat with someone or immediately respond to an IM when your status is anything other than "available". I equate this to responding to an e-mail or picking up a business related phone call when you are on vacation or taking PTO. Immediate responses mean that your status doesn't matter. Simply give it a few minutes, change your status, and chat with the individual. If it was truly an emergency, I would be called.
How do you manage your virtual presence? Do you follow these general guidelines? Do you have additional ones to share?
I hope you share your thoughts and comments.