Working virtually, are you kidding!’ This would have been the expression about 10 years back. But today the world of ‘virtual working’ has shortened the distances and has thus opened a plethora of opportunities for businesses otherwise located remotely. According to a research conducted by Forrester Research, by 2016 nearly 63 million Americans will be working virtually or remotely or from a home-office, which is a steep rise from 2010’s 34 million. Well, a virtual workplace is the one which is not physically located and employees work out of their personal spaces and are connected with the help of technology.
Though working virtually trend is on a rise and it has many benefits both for the employees and the employers, it also comes with sets of challenges. While on the one hand, working virtually is cost-effective, enhances productivity and saves time as well, on the other hand, issues of team conflict, lack of understanding and miscommunication creeps up among team mates. Virtual team requires the right kind of support and strong management. There are certain ways in which virtual offices can be made to feel more like real.
A dynamic team
In traditional/ physical offices, employees are not only aware of their roles but they also know how their role fits into the bigger perspective of everyone around. This gives them a sense of responsibility. Similar setup needs to be developed when working virtually. Before the beginning of any project, all the team mates must be made understood everyone else’s role. This will give the teams located remotely as sense of responsibility for each other.
While working virtually, all the employees need to understand defined goals which they can relate to individual level as well as at team level. A clear set of directions must be given and a person must be made accountable to supervise all the communications.
Whenever your employees need to discuss something sensitive with you, encourage them to make a video conferencing and not put things in a mail. Voice, facial expression and tonality do make a difference and help in getting the message pass through without obstruction.
It goes without saying that the growth of virtual office has been picking up entirely because of advancement I technology. There are a number of Google Apps and other applications which enable team mates to work together on a document or file without actually sitting together. The teammates can view each other’s work, can edit the work and can even discuss the work. Encourage the use of such technologies in your virtual office and that will bring cohesiveness among your team.
A good team is the one wherein people have mutual respect and trust. In traditional office team develop trust through consistency, reliability and responsiveness. These may develop as a result of task cohesion. In virtual office, you can encourage your team to reflect trust by being consistent. This can be done by sticking to deadlines and meeting schedules. As a boss, you are also required to stick to your words. If you say you would revert in an hour, do so. This is the building stone of a strong work ethic. Virtual work has arrived and it is booming. We need to shape it beautifully for the future to have more and more of it.