Training a virtual workforce is very important, and how that training is handled can go a long way toward the level of effectiveness the workforce has throughout a project and beyond. Managers who understand the deep significance of training a workforce properly will often see that group of employees perform quite well. This provides a large benefit to the company, the manager, the workforce, and the project as a whole.
But it is also vital to be aware that one group of employees is going to be a bit different from another group. How they are trained, what they respond to, and what they already know will vary with the people in the group and how they interact with one another. Here are six of the best ways to train a virtual workforce for the highest and best level of effectiveness available.
1. The Workforce Must Understand the Group Process
Every project has a process, and every virtual workforce that is creating a project must work through that process the right way in order to be effective. Managers who are building a virtual workforce for a project should carefully explain the group process to that workforce. The process may be different depending on the project that is being undertaken, so it is important to explain that process even if the group has worked together before.
New projects often require changes to the structure of the group or the way particular issues are handled. Remembering that can go a long way toward preserving quality and effectiveness in any virtual workforce no matter what project they are working on at the time. When any manager is training a virtual workforce, one of the main goals is to ensure that everyone in that workforce is clear on all group processes they will be involved in.
2. Technology Has To Be Utilized Correctly To Be Effective
Even when a manager and a company provide the best technology available for a virtual workforce, that technology has to be used the right way or it really is not going to matter. The best technology is not going to be valuable when it sits unused, collecting dust. It has to be given to the virtual workforce, and they need to be taught how it can and should be used. Many of them will be familiar with it, but some of them may need training to use it properly.
For those who need to be taught, doing so at the beginning of the group project is the best way to handle the issue. Then everyone is on the same page, even if some people have more of a learning curve than others. With virtual technology options to choose from, it is not that difficult for everyone in the workforce to talk with one another and ensure that they are doing the right thing when it comes to advancing the project properly.
3. Strengths and Weaknesses Can Be Located Efficiently
Every single person on a manager's virtual workforce will have strengths and weaknesses. That is normal and expected, and when these can be determined early on in the process they can be utilized and adjusted for correctly. During the training of a virtual workforce is the best time to identify these issues, because the strengths can be worked into the group process and the weaknesses can be worked around.
There will be some employees who are strong in areas where others are weaker, and by putting them all together in a virtual workforce they will benefit from the abilities of one another. They will also be able to compensate for one another, so there will be fewer areas where the project may be slowed down or have other types of problems. Training a virtual workforce around the strengths and weaknesses of its members is a very valuable way to raise effectiveness.
4. Addressing Cultural Issues From the Very Beginning Matters
When a manager brings a virtual workforce together, one of the important issues that is faced is the cultural differences that can be seen in the members of that workforce. These are sometimes avoided as a topic of discussion because they can be rather sensitive, but it is very valuable to discuss them and get concerns and differences out into the open. By doing that, there is a higher chance that the group can work together more cohesively.
Training should involve cultural sensitivity and discussion, in order to reduce the chances of conflict in the workforce throughout the project. While it does not guarantee that there will be no issues later on, it can improve the way in which many virtual workforce employees interact with one another.
5. Visual Cues Can Be Essential to a Proper Working Environment
In the traditional workforce, coworkers can often see one another when interacting. The visual cues they provide for one another make a difference in the quality of their interaction, which is why it is important for a virtual workforce to have this ability, as well.
Video conferencing and related means of talking to and working with one another can make it easier for workers to see the facial expressions and gestures of the people they work with, for a better understanding of what they are really trying to say during project discussions.
6. Every Workforce is Different, So Focus On Their Specific Dynamics
The main issue to remember about training a virtual workforce is that there are a number of differences and dynamics in every workforce. Focusing on the specifics of that particular group of people, instead of on how the workforce "should" be, can go a long way toward training everyone properly.
People must work within their own abilities, and as a group they can generally accomplish great things. However, a virtual workforce is full of people who want to be acknowledged as individuals, along with their contributions to the group as a whole. Focusing on what each person brings to the group is very important.