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Second Life: dress code ahead

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Most corporates worldwide might have formulated guidelines for their employees dress codes, but when it comes to the virtual world most of them seems to be now waking up to the need of having a similar for the avatars of their employees through which they are represented in the online environments like Second Life.

According to market research firm Gartner, by the end of 2013, 70 per cent of enterprises will have behaviour guidelines and dress codes established for all employees who have avatars associated with the enterprise inside a virtual environment.

“Companies with codes of conduct for other web activities, such as blogging, should be able to extend those policies into virtual environments. However, because 3-D environments add the visual dimension, they will need to make sure that their policies also cover dress codes,” the report ‘Avatars in the Enterprise: Six Guidelines to Enable Success’ says.

Avatars are visual representations of people in a virtual or 3-D Internet environment. Remotely controlled by the person they are represented with in the virtual environment, they most often resemble a human and often animated. Clothing which is a critical component of a dress code, is often not taken really seriously in virtual world.

According to Gartner, the biggest uses of avatars happen when it comes to training and virtual meeting. “Avatars are creeping into business environments and will have far reaching implications for enterprises, from policy to dress code, behaviour and computing platform requirements,” says the research firm.

Earlier, Gartner had come with a study on the risk associated with doing business in virtual world, with the requirement for proper brand and reputation management.

In the latest report, the research firm says that employees who participate in various social networking sites and websites as representatives of their employers need to maintain a degree of professionalism. Just as with social networking sites and individual web pages where employees participate as representatives of their employer, an avatar’s behaviour and appearance are a reflection of the individual and the company they work for.

The issue can be sorted out up to certain extent if the employees avoid mixing their personal and professional interaction, and use one avatar for their relating to their professional interactions.

“As the use of virtual environments for business purposes grows, enterprises need to understand how employees are using avatars in ways that might affect the enterprise or the enterprise’s reputation,” said James Lundy, managing vice president at Gartner.

“We advise establishing codes of behaviour that apply in any circumstance when an employee is acting as a company representative, whether in a real or virtual environment. Addendums, specific to virtual environments can be added as required,” Lundy said.

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