A virtualised workforce has its benefits. Some organisations seek ways to reduce costs without sacrificing productivity. To achieve this, some companies give employees the opportunity to work from any location, such as a home office. Also referred to as telecommuting, a virtualised workforce can reduce IT costs and often results in higher job satisfaction for employees. And when employees are satisfied, there’s a lower turnover. But if you don’t have experience managing a virtual team, you might have a few reservations.
Here are five helpful tips to virtualise your workforce.
1. Believe in your team
Some employers hesitate offering telecommuting due to fear of decreased productivity. They may feel they have to oversee and micro-manage their workforce. It’s natural to be concerned with employees slacking off; for that matter, only present this option to those who can work independently and with minimum supervision. Most people have to work, so they won’t do anything to jeopardise their position. If they can’t perform outside the office, they’ll be asked to return to the office. For many, this is an incentive to give 110% to the job, especially if they enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from any location.
2. Research technology available
For a virtual workforce to work, you need technology that lets you stay in communication with virtual employees. There are several ways to communicate with your employees. You can use email, Skype, text messaging and social media. Additionally, there are companies that offer telecommuting technology. They can provide you with everything you need to run a smooth virtualised workforce. This includes setting up computer networks that allow employees to collaborate, or setup a system that allows inbound/outbound calls. In many cases, this service includes technical support.
3. Identify positions for telecommuting
In all likelihood, you won’t be able to virtualise your entire workforce. Some jobs cannot be completed from a remote location, so these individuals will have to continue working in the office. But if you have employees who primarily work on the phone or the computer, these individuals might be a good match for working remotely.
4. Get feedback
Before virtualising your workforce, consult employees and other supervisors to determine whether this is the right move for the company. Also, you need to assess how many employees have the ability to telecommute. Although their specific assignment can be completed from a remote location, their circumstances may not allow working from home. For example, someone may not have a home office or the ability to use technology at home, or some of your employees may feel they’re not disciplined to work at home due to a number of distractions.
5. Make a slow transition
Creating a virtualized workforce should be a slow, gradual process. If you switch all your employees at once, you may run into problems. Start by allowing a few employees to work remotely. Observe their performance and make adjustments as needed. This also provides you an opportunity to learn how to manage a virtual workforce. Once you’ve worked out the kinks and everything’s moving smoothly, you can let additional workers make the transition.
A virtualised workforce reduces overhead and lets your people work from any location. This is a big change for any company. However, as long as you choose the right employees for telecommuting, and they have the appropriate technology, it can work. A virtual workforce isn’t an excuse to neglect managing your people. It’s an adjustment period, so you’ll need to periodically review their performance and make suggestions to increase productivity.