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The Myths and Realities of a Virtual Workforce

Having a virtual workforce can give a company the opportunity to capitalize on talented employees all over the world. But before a business embarks on this method of collaboration, there are some things they should know. The more knowledge a manager or business owner has before setting up a virtual workforce, the more they can get the most from the experience. 

Busting the myths and understanding the realities mean the virtual workforce will be a better fit, accomplish more for the company, and see higher levels of success. Here are a few of the biggest myths and realities of having a virtual workforce. 

Myth 1: Traditional Workforces and Virtual Workforces Are Basically the Same Thing 

A traditional workforce is based on the idea of everyone working in the same place. They might have separate offices or cubicles, but getting together in person is not difficult. They can have team meetings and other work related get-togethers, and they can collaborate face-to-face. There is less need for technology to work with one another, but technology is still often widely used. 

The Reality is...A traditional workforce is not at all the same as a virtual workforce, where team members may be scattered across the country or the globe. They are not going to be seeing each other in person, and they must learn to collaborate and work together through email, video conferencing, phone calls, and related means. It can be more challenging, but it is also possible to get a more varied and unique workforce. 

Myth 2: People Cannot be Creative in a Virtual Workforce 

There is a belief that true creativity comes from "bouncing" ideas off of one another, and that this needs to be done in an interactive setting where everyone is gathered around the conference table. While that can be a very productive use of a workforce's time, it is not a requirement for this workforce to experience success. People are often creative on their own, and can show that ability in many different ways. 

The Reality is...People can be creative by themselves, and they can also create and then send that creation or the ideas for it on to others in the group. With the right technology, everyone in a virtual workforce can still work with one another in real time, as well. Video conferencing is among the best ways to accomplish this, and can help ensure that the creativity of every workforce member is acknowledged and used to its fullest. 

Myth 3: Virtual Workforce Members Do Not Care About Career Progression 

Too many companies believe that virtual workforces exist only to continue to do what they are already doing, forever. They are believed to be out of sight, out of mind, with the exception of when they have a report due or they need to deliver on a deadline. So the idea that members of these teams can and should be promoted can be put on the back burner or ignored completely. 

The Reality is...A virtual workforce is made up of people who are just as dedicated to their jobs as a traditional workforce. These people do care about the progression of their careers, and they want to move ahead and advance their own goals and dreams. A manager who builds a virtual workforce should be well aware that the people in that group need just as much respect and opportunity as any other employee. 

Myth 4: Technology Will Drive the Success (or the Failure) of the Virtual Workforce 

Having the right technology is important, and many managers believe their virtual workforce will completely fall apart if they do not give that workforce all the best gadgets to use. They are concerned about the workforce's ability to interact with one another, and whether all the team members will do their best work if they do not have the right tools. 

The Reality is...A virtual workforce can succeed with less technology. It is not about the technology itself, but the skills of the workers and the way they use the technology they have that matters. Highly skilled employees who are committed to doing their job will work around technological glitches and other problems to reach the rest of the people in their workforce. While good technology could make things easier, it is not a requirement for a quality virtual workforce.\ 

So, What's the Main Takeaway? 

The most important thing for managers to remember when it comes to the myths and realities of a virtual workforce is that these kinds of workforces are not traditional and have to be constructed and managed somewhat differently. However, these kinds of workforce opportunities can be just as valuable, or even more valuable, than their traditional counterparts. Managers who want to keep their businesses growing and succeeding would be wise to address the use of virtual workforce options. 

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