The virtual workforce is becoming more useful and commonplace today, but one of the most important aspects of it is the roles that are played by workforce members and how those roles mesh together. Doing this the right way can make a strong, viable, sustainable workforce. But not addressing the issue properly, and not clearly working through any concerns with roles and how they are being handled, can mean that the workforce is not nearly as cohesive as it needs to be in order to be successful. With that in mind, here is what to consider about the roles employees play in the virtual workforce.
Role Coordination Matters for Workforce Effectiveness
In order for a virtual workforce to be effective, all of the roles played by members of that workforce have to be properly coordinated. Each person on the workforce has a role to play, and when someone fails to handle that role correctly they can harm the entire project or operation on which the workforce is focused. Someone else may also have to pick up a different role, adjust their current role, or take on an additional role in order to keep things moving forward properly. But the more coordinated everyone is, the better off the entire virtual workforce and the company they all work for will actually be.
There are Three Main Roles in a Virtual Workforce
It is possible to lay out a lot of different ideas of what each person should be doing, but there are only three main roles that a virtual workforce contains. These can be broken down in sub-roles or other facets of the group, but the idea that there are dozens of specific roles for employees in the workforce to play is not realistic. Instead, a virtual workforce is made up of employees who each have their own set of tasks to complete, but who fall into one of three specific roles: functional and task-oriented, socio-emotional, or individual. These roles are all important, and they all have their place in the virtual workforce environment.
Functional and Task-Oriented Roles Are Important
Among the most significant of the employees in a virtual workforce are those who are assigned functional and task-oriented roles. These workers are focused on helping the workforce achieve its goals and accomplish the tasks that have been set out before it by the company. The workforce was originally formed to take on specific tasks and perform certain functions, and there are people in that workforce who need to ensure this is continuing to take place. Otherwise the virtual workforce loses its value to the company and can find itself floundering when it comes to how to meet its main goals and objectives consistently or completely.
Collaboration is Achieved Through Socio-Emotional Roles
Socio-emotional roles are also played by a number of virtual workforce employees. These are the types of roles that affect team-building, collaboration, and trust among workforce employees. Working on a common goal is a very important part of the job for a virtual workforce, and it can be more difficult to do when people are scattered across the globe and do not know one another very well. Some people are simply better at motivating people, helping them release tension, or resolving conflicts, and it is typically people with these types of personalities that are involved in socio-emotional roles in a virtual workforce.
Individual Roles and Personal Needs Also Matter
Desiring control and recognition is a part of working for a lot of people. They want to be the ones in charge, and they want to be the ones to get the credit when things go well. They have personal needs that are not a part of what the virtual workforce might want or require. In that sense they are very focused on working independently, instead of collaborating with others.
While these kinds of workers may make collaboration and trust somewhat more difficult, they also tend to strive for more because they want to be recognized for what they can do. That can lead them to accomplish a lot so they can be viewed as valuable, but they can also harm the workforce because looking out for themselves can be viewed as a very negative behavior. It is not one that takes the entire virtual workforce into consideration, so it really should be avoided as much as possible. Noticing this kind of role in a coworker can also make things more difficult and stressful for other members of the workforce.
Communication is Achieved Through ICT Tools
No matter what kind of role each person on the virtual workforce is playing, all the employees need to communicate with one another. They do that through the use of ICT tools, which help them have personal, interpersonal, and group communication throughout the workforce. When people are located all around the globe, they really need good communication tools in order to fulfill the roles they have in the workforce and perform their jobs correctly. The more that people in the workforce communicate with each other and stay open to proper, valuable roles, the more the virtual workforce can accomplish as a whole.
Everyone on the Virtual Workforce Should Understand Their Role
People naturally fall into roles in a lot of cases. This is based on their personalities and what they are naturally good at. But these roles should not be something that are just "there," and that are not considered, worked on, and adjusted as needed. Managers who see roles going bad, or who see roles that are not being properly handled, should work with employees to ensure that everyone understands the kind of role they should be playing and how they can perform that role in a better way.
A true understanding of the roles that are seen in the virtual workforce and the importance of those roles to the successful completion of tasks matters. It is a vital part of making sure the workforce has what it needs to accomplish all the goals the company has set out for it.