When a virtual workforce is being developed, one of the problems that can be faced is a lack of awareness in the types of capabilities that are really needed. Managers may believe that finding people who can complete the needed tasks is enough, but that is not necessarily true. The way a virtual workforce operates and all the subtleties that come along with it definitely matter for both quality and sustainability.
With that in mind, there are 12 needed capabilities that are vital parts of the development of a virtual workforce. It is not at all easy to develop this type of workforce for the first time, but that does not mean companies should avoid doing so. A virtual workforce can be extremely valuable to a company, as long as that company is ready for the effort that must be put into the creation and operation of that workforce. When these capabilities are all present, it is easy to see how a workforce can grow, develop, and succeed.
1. Virtual Workforce Leadership and Coordination Capability
This particular capability represents the ability to manage, lead, and coordinate all activities that take place in a virtual workforce. This is clearly needed, as a virtual workforce that does not have good leadership and coordination will struggle to complete tasks and address any problems that occur and have to be solved. Fortunately, being aware that this capability is needed can help the formation and development of any virtual workforce, and give it a good starting point from which it can build and grow. Because a virtual workforce can be more complex from a leadership standpoint, proper understanding is needed.
2. Virtual Workforce Governance Capability
The governance capability of a virtual workforce means that this workforce is able to handle virtual workforce projects and initiatives. It is a part of enterprise governance, and if it is not addressed correctly it can stop the workforce from completing the tasks that have been assigned to it by the company and management. Taking initiative and moving projects forward is a vital part of a virtual workforce, and needs to be done in a way that the employees in that workforce respond to. While it is true that employees are there to do a job, showing employees respect and showing that they are valued can really help them.
3. Virtual Workforce Tools and Technologies Capability
Tools and technologies support the virtual workforce communication, collaboration, information sharing, infrastructure and network, management, and computational resources. As such, these are extremely vital to allowing that workforce to do its job as efficiently and effectively as possible. Without proper technology and the tools to do their jobs the right way, members of the virtual workforce can fail to complete tasks and advance the goals of the company through no fault of their own. This can lead to these workers feeling discouraged and not performing at the expected level of quality due to those difficulties.
4. Virtual Workforce Communication and Collaboration Capability
For a virtual workforce to effectively communicate, they need to be able to collaborate with all stakeholders both internally and externally. That is not always easy, but it is extremely important. If they are cut off from working with stakeholders they are not able to get all the information they really need to make the best decisions for the good of the task on which they are working. Fortunately, being aware of the need for that capability can solve this issue and allow the workforce to do its job effectively. Not every stakeholder may want to be involved in this way, but it is important for the virtual workforce to have the option.
5. Virtual Workforce Training and Development Capability
Training and development are both vital elements of a strong virtual workforce. The members of that workforce need the required training, certifications, and professional development to ensure that they can perform effectively within a virtual environment. Not everyone is used to how that particular kind of environment works, and that can make it difficult for them to feel comfortable and be as effective as possible. The proper guidance and preparation will improve the confidence of the entire virtual workforce, allowing them to do more for the company and focus on what matters for their proper job performance.
6. Virtual Workforce Human Resource Management Capability
Human resource management is a vital and important part of any company, because employees make up the true value of the company and offer the quality and efficiency that so many companies need. But hiring practices are different for a virtual workforce than they would be for a traditional workforce. Having this capability ensures that there are well-defined competencies and a skill-set necessary to be part of a virtual workforce. That, along with hiring practices specifically designed for the virtual workforce and a way to evaluate and develop these competencies can go a very long way toward success for any company.
7. Virtual Workforce Strategic Alignment Capability
It is extremely important to include virtual workforce implementation as a part of organizational strategy. By making this implementation part of the DNA of the organization and getting executives to offer their support for it, it is possible for a company to move forward with a virtual workforce they can really be proud of and can also be very successful with. But the company needs to understand that this workforce does not operate the same way as a traditional one would, and the capabilities that are needed by this workforce are going to be somewhat different. Implementing the virtual workforce must be done correctly for success.
8. Virtual Workforce Design and Structure Capability
There are some times when a virtual workforce makes sense, and some times when it would not be the best choice. This capability is important because it shows that a company can define when to use a virtual workforce. They also need to have clear criteria and a reference model for the type of virtual workforce organizational design they are going to use and why. The more a company understands how to use a virtual workforce to their advantage, the more they can benefit from every option they have available to them. Learning how to use that workforce the right way can take practice, but it is a very important company skill.
9. Virtual Workforce Framework, Standards, and Methods Capability
The best practices of an industry should always be applied when a company is serious about what it does. When this company is aware of the capabilities it has and those that it needs, it can provide, use, and apply the industry best practices, standards, and proven methods to enable its virtual workforce. That gives the workforce a clear chance to understand everything it needs to do. This includes how it needs to address issues, and what kinds of regulations and practices it has to follow in order to make sure it is providing the highest level of quality, efficiency, and benefit to the company that has developed it for their use.
10. Virtual Workforce Support Capability
A virtual workforce needs strong support, and that is about more than just knowing that members of that workforce can reach out and ask questions when needed. Instead, a virtual workforce needs a company that will provide research, strategical, tactical, and technical support to enable the virtual workforce throughout its life cycle from all levels. In short, a virtual workforce has to know that the company "has its back." Otherwise, the workforce will struggle because it will not have the resources it really needs to accomplish its tasks. With strong support, however, a virtual workforce can accomplish much more for a company.
11. Virtual Workforce Performance Measurement, Evaluation, and Improvement Capability
The performance of a virtual workforce matters. A company using a virtual workforce will need the ability to evaluate and measure their virtual workforce performance. From the findings of that evaluation, the company will then need to improve the virtual workforce's approach so that more can be accomplished. Even if a virtual workforce is doing very well, there is always room for improvement. In order to see that improvement, though, a virtual workforce needs evaluation and guidance. A company with the ability to do that will see better performance from their virtual workforce than other companies.
12. Virtual Workforce Capability Maturity Assessment Capability
The maturity of an organization and whether it is ultimately ready for a virtual workforce matters. Companies that are not prepared for the creation and development of a virtual workforce run the risk of having serious problems with attempting to do so. Not all companies are mature enough to operate this kind of workforce successfully, and for those that are not the focus will be on developing that level of maturity so they can move forward with virtual workforce plans. Having a well-defined plan and a road map of how to do what is needed for virtual workforce implementation helps show the maturity of any company.