Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Frederick Steier, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jane Jorgenson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mahuya Pal, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Walter Nord, Ph.D.


Remote work, Sociomaterial practice, Organizational communication, Bonding, Learning


Organizations have traditionally accomplished connectivity among their workers by co-locating them in shared organizational workplaces. However, information and communication technologies (ICTs) are offering alternative ways to accomplish this kind of connection. This change raises important questions about what it is possible to accomplish through such mediated communicative connections, and if there are work activities that are best accomplished face-to-face. Practitioners and researchers have historically identified informal communication as a process essential to organizational success that is difficult or impossible to accomplish outside of shared physical environments. This study documents the ways full-time teleworkers are accomplishing informal communication without being in shared work environments. In doing this, this work also identifies for what purposes these participants find shared organizational workplaces important and/or essential for successful informal communication.

To complete this study required that two additional questions needed to be addressed: 1) defining full-time telework in the context of modern ICT-mediated corporate work environments, and 2) a re-examination of the parameters of telework to define them for modern workplace environments, so as be able to use effectively to examine past and present telework research efforts. In order to document the context of each of the participants as fully as possible, a narrative case study based research protocol was used. Participants were engaged through two active interviews and a journaling exercise so as to identify and document instances of informal communication and their purposes or roles in their workdays.

This study’s key finding is that among this group of full-time teleworkers, all were engaging in informal communication to accomplish bonding and learning, both in ways that paralleled those communicative practices commonly accomplished in shared environments, but also in new ways that were made possible because of emergent sociomaterial practices supported by new information and communication technology affordances. While all the study’s participants indicated that their work processes, including informal communication, could be entirely accomplished virtually, nearly all noted the importance of face-to-face communication for key aspects of bonding and learning. Additionally, the successful work practices of these teleworkers were strongly dependent on the ubiquitous adoption of ICT tools and platforms throughout these participants’ organizations, and by the distribution and mobility of increasing numbers of workers, in these organizations and others, that are using these technologies as a routine part of their daily work practices.

Included in

Communication Commons