There are many different ways to organize a virtual workforce, and each one of the organization options has both advantages and disadvantages. However, the most important thing is not which organization is chosen, but that the right organization is chosen. A virtual workforce is different from virtual teams. Teams are quite often temporary, while a workforce on a virtual level is designed to be much more permanent.
Still, how that workforce is structured or whether segments of it are configured differently is something for a manager to carefully consider in order to get things right and keep them efficient. Here are eight possible organizations that can be used for virtual teams, but that will also work well for an entire virtual workforce. Managers can choose just one option, or consider dividing the workforce into groups and having a number of different configurations at a time.
1. Networked Organizations
These types of organizations are spread out geographically, and may have expert help and guidance from people who are not an official part of the company. They generally share topic knowledge, and may work on a specific issue or project. When they finish their assigned project they will be shifted onto another project, with some members of the workforce potentially being re-grouped and "shuffled" around to work with other people. This keeps ideas fresh and new, allows coworkers to get to know each other, but still lets the company keep the same basic workforce that it has had instead of looking for new people.
2. Product Development & Project Organizations
For a company that is product based, or one that focuses most of its time and effort on research and development, having a virtual workforce that is strongly geared toward project development can be an excellent choice. The organizations may be divided into groups, with each group working on a different type of product development or project. However a manager chooses to address things, it makes sense to have the majority of the virtual workforce for this type of company spending most of its time on developing new things and learning how to make what they already have even better. For the right company, this is an excellent choice.
3. Service Organizations
A virtual service workforce performs best when it is focused on helping people. That is how companies that provide 24 hour customer service, seven days a week, handle things. With this type of business, where this level of support is needed, managers would be wise to cultivate a workforce that is service based and interested in caring for the needs of others. Not every employee is a good fit for this kind of virtual workforce, since some employees are not available for the hours the company needs from them. There may be other circumstances, as well, but as long as there are enough virtual employees, this can be successful.
4. Action Organizations
Normally, action organizations are only together for a little while. They focus on things like incident response and crisis management. However, for the right kind of company it can make sense to have a virtual action organization. Some companies are in the business of managing crisis’s and responding to incidents. As such, managers of these companies want to hire people who understand the importance of taking action and continuing to make quick responses better, safer, and more efficient. With that in mind, these companies can get a great deal accomplished with the right virtual workforce and proper management of it.
5. Parallel Organizations
A virtual organization that is parallel generally has one type of job or task, but they can also take on related tasks as needed. This approach can work very well in many different types of companies, because doing one job but also needing to do other jobs as part of their responsibilities is a common theme in the workplace. When a manager is creating a virtual workforce, it is very important that they carefully consider the kinds of tasks that workforce will be asked to do. But they also have to consider the number of tasks and how those relate to one another. Only then can they make a good decision about virtual workforce type.
6. Offshore Organizations
Many companies use offshore workers for certain types of teams, but having a completely offshore virtual workforce is possible. How well this works depends on the type of the company, but software, IT, and related kinds of technology and communications companies often do very well with this model. While their entire workforce may not be virtual, the part that is virtual can be comprised entirely off offshore employees. While it is not the right choice for every company, many managers see the value it can offer under the right circumstances.
7. Production & Functional Organizations
This is one of the most common types of virtual workforce arrangements, because it allows a company to have a diverse workforce where many different people are working independent of one another. That is a great choice when most of the workforce is virtual. Each person completes a little piece of the puzzle, and when it is all put together it builds a solid, strong company that is successful and profitable. That is good news for the company, the employees, the virtual workforce, customers, and others who have reason to be associate with this arrangement.
8. Management Organizations
It is not realistic to comprise an entire virtual workforce of managers. They would not have anyone to manage. But there are many companies where the majority of the managers are employed on a virtual level. Together they make up a virtual management workforce, and they are tasked with the duty of managing the virtual employees. In some cases they may also manage traditional employees, depending on the type of company and where everyone is located. As long as everyone is on board with the way things are operated, a virtual workforce for management can be a very effective option for the right company.