The creation of a virtual workforce can be one of the most important and rewarding things a company will do. However, it must be created and managed correctly or it may not provide the desired outcome. This type of workforce can be a significant asset to a company, or it can become a costly liability.
Which way it goes will largely depend on how the workforce has been developed and chosen, and how it is managed as it grows and develops. Here are six of the most important things to do when setting up a virtual workforce, to help ensure the highest chance at long-term success.
1. Remember That the People Matter Most
A manager can have great technology and a quality company, but if they do not hire the right people and treat them well, that company will suffer and the technology really will not matter. It is the people in a virtual workforce that matter most. They need to be right for the company and right for each other from a professional standpoint. If they cannot work together effectively, the entire operation will suffer.
2. Choose Diversity to Get More Done
When selecting a team for a virtual workforce, managers should consider a diverse group of people. Choosing people who are all in the same age group, of the same gender, and of the same basic nationality will not give a diversified look at any problems the company has or ways to solve those problems.
This kind of virtual workforce also limits the company's understanding of how certain groups feel about specific types of products or services. The more diverse the group of people in a virtual workforce, the more likely their knowledge and guidance will be valuable to the company.
3. Provide the Technology Needed for Success
While it is true that technology is not the most important part of a virtual workforce, it is still a very valuable asset. Employees can get more done when they are able to collaborate with one another and perform their assigned job duties more easily.
Because of that, the technology they are using should be the best the manager can reasonably provide for them. Then they can use what they are offered to interact with each other and to make sure they are performing their jobs to the best of their ability. This technology can also be used by management to check on their progress, in order to keep projects on track.
4. Understand That a Different Management Style is Required
When managing a virtual workforce, the style has to be different than managing a traditional one. Workers are not all in one area, and they may not even be all on one continent. With that in mind managers should focus on giving more free reign to the workers, but also being clear on the deadlines and expectations.
That way workers feel as though they can work on the project without being micromanaged, but they still know where they need to be by specific dates. As they collaborate with the rest of the team, it is easy to see who is and is not doing their share of the work, and who may need further guidance to be successful.
5. Address Ways to Reduce Social Isolation
Among the biggest problems when setting up a virtual workforce is the concern over the social isolation some or all of the workers may feel. They may often work from home, but they will not have a peer group to interact with during their workday. That can make them feel isolated and can even lead to depression and anxiety in some cases.
Adjusting the workday so that virtual workforce team members have the opportunity for more socialization can help. There is no realistic reason for these workers to be at their home office desks on the same schedule as traditional workers in most cases. Helping them understand that can also help them feel more connected.
6. Work With Employees to Ensure Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity
Having a diverse virtual workforce is very important, but it can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings. Cultural awareness and sensitivity may not come naturally to every employee, but it can definitely be taught. Managers who focus on this type of training right from the beginning will be more likely to have a virtual workforce that works well together and that is generally kind, or at least respectful, to one another.
It is not always easy to set up a virtual workforce, but by following these six tips it will be easier to create a workforce that will truly complement one another and the company as a whole. More can get done, deadlines will be met, and everyone will work together to foster the immediate good and continued success of the company.