Date of Award

August 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Simone C. O. C. O. Conceição

Committee Members

Larry G. Martin, Jacques C. Du Plessis, Carol L. Colbeck, Cheryl K. Balwin


Telecommuting, Virtual Teams, Workplace Learning


In this dissertation, the social and emotional experience of telecommuters working remotely in interdependent virtual teams is explored through their lived experiences. The problem this study addresses is a lack of understanding about the process by which individuals subjectively experience remote work in virtual teams. The research methodology for this study is phenomenological—drawing data from interviews of 10 participants. The participants for this study represented a variety of industries and organizations. They were telecommuters who worked remotely more than 80% of the time, had a minimum of one year’s experience, and collaborated with others to develop a shared work product. This study drew directly from the words and expressions of the participants through in-depth, semi-structured interviews that were transcribed and thematically coded through a process of phenomenological reduction, using an analytical framework based upon the Learning in Work Life Framework (Illeris, 2011) and the Being There for the Online Learner Model (Lehman & Conceição, 2010).

The findings of this study contribute to the literature with five aspects of working remotely in virtual teams:

1. Telecommuters perceive time as an elastic, boundless aspect of how they work.

2. Telecommuters perceive increased effectiveness as a result of their work arrangements.

3. Individual initiative mediates the challenges of the social and emotional experience of telecommuting.

4. The social and emotional experience of telecommuting in virtual teams is impacted by the perception of others.

5. The emotional experience of presence is enhanced by informal interactions.