Eight Possible Organizational Arrangements of a Virtual Workforce: Why Choosing the Right One Matters

Virtualization is changing the business world, and affecting a number of organizations and how they operate. As of July, 2018, at least 50% of jobs in the United States were jobs that could be done, at least partially, on a virtual level. Going virtual is becoming much more valuable for businesses, but there are also unresolved questions that have to be answered before an organization moves forward with virtual workforce development. With that in mind, organizations need to understand the different arrangements and configurations that can make up a virtual workforce.

This is much more than just a virtual team that will be disassembled once a project is over. Instead, this is a complete workforce and a part of enterprise development. Large companies are seeing the value in doing this. Aetna, for example, saved $78 million by removing 2.7 million square feet of office space and having a larger virtual workforce. Additionally, American Express reports saving $!0 to $15 million every year due to its virtual workforce, according to a Forbes magazine article.

The arrangements that this workforce take can be divided between parts of the company, or there can be one arrangement for the entire company. Both are good options and both can work, depending on the size of the organization and other factors. It is up to the organization as a whole to make a determination about what is right, and what is the best way to move forward toward the goals that need to be met. Considered here are the eight possible organizational arrangements of a virtual workforce, their pros and cons, and the applications they have for any organization that uses them.

Once these workforce configurations have been examined and studied, the value is in determining which one should be used and whether more than one would benefit the organization more directly. Whether there is a succinct and direct solution is questionable, however, because there are factors and variables that affect every virtual workforce arrangement and every organization. Making sure these are all taken into account can help any organization determine which workforce configuration will be right for them and meet their needs more appropriately as they build and maintain their virtual workforce.

The Significance of the Correct Workforce Arrangement

There are eight possible virtual organizational arrangements. When discussing organizations, however, it is vital to understand that this does not necessarily mean an entire company. It can be any organized group within a company, as well. Often, it depends on the size of the company. Therefore, the enterprise (the company) can have a number of organizations and sub-organizations contained within it. When referring to an organization, clarification is needed as to whether the term means an entire company or a group within that company.

For purposes of this discussion, the term organization can mean either a company (generally a smaller one, such as a start-up), or a subgroup within that company. The virtual workforce arrangement that is used by an organization is not to be confused with a virtual team. There can be confusion with this when an enterprise has many organizations contained within it, and when those organizations use different virtual workforce configurations. This can appear as though the company has virtual teams, but teams are generally short-term creations for a specific project.

The virtual workforce may also include members of many different organizations, along with clients, partners, suppliers, and other types of stakeholders. These individuals and groups can all be organized for specific projects, and can be reassigned as needed. Additionally, each organization may have one or many virtual teams, so a virtual workforce can include that type of arrangement, as well. The virtual workforce arrangements are not meant to be short-term, and they offer much more than a team would provide.

Part of choosing the correct virtual workforce arrangement is knowing when to use teams and when they would not be effective for the task at hand. As such, the virtual workforce is designed to be part of the enterprise capability of the entire organization, and add value and depth to that organization on a number of levels. With that in mind, understanding what these arrangements have to offer and which one of them will work best for what is intended is a big part of accomplishing more for any organization. Simply creating a virtual workforce will not help an organization achieve maximum effectiveness unless the right kind of workforce configuration is selected.

Since an enterprise can have a mix of different virtual organizational arrangements that are need-based, it is possible for a larger virtual organization (such as a department) to have a mixture of different configurations based on the kind of work that is assigned to that department. Again, these are not short-term virtual teams. These are long-term workforces that are an integral part of the organization and the entire enterprise as a whole.

Smaller enterprises tend to choose one arrangement, because they do not have a number of different departments and may not need more than one option for proper arrangement. There is also a third possibility, which is a hybrid arrangement of a virtual and non-virtual workforce. Especially during the transition to a completely virtual organization, this hybrid structure is commonly seen.

Problems Can Arise in Virtual Workforce Arrangements

There are a number of different ways that a virtual workforce can be configured and arranged, and there are advantages and disadvantages to every one of those options. So which configuration is the right one, and how much difference does it make? The most important issue for every organization is not which of the configurations they choose, but that they are choosing the right arrangement for their needs. Since a virtual workforce is designed to be long-term and permanent, instead of temporary like a team, the right arrangement can matter to the organization for years to come.

Additionally, organizations would be wise to consider the evolution of the business as a whole, and how important it is to continuously re-evaluate these arrangements and change them as needed. By doing this, the organization will be more likely to focus on getting it right the first time, and on making small adjustments as it develops and grows. These smaller adjustments can be much easier to accept than the larger ones that could come about if the wrong virtual workforce arrangement is created at the beginning and must be completely re-designed later.

Virtual workforce arrangements can certainly be adjusted over time, but if the right one is created from the beginning that can save an organization time and effort later. Research shows that major reorganization of a workforce costs an organization significant money and can also be extremely disruptive, so the more this can be avoided the better it will be for everyone involved. The goal is to make the best choice the first time, based on the knowledge the organization has. Where will they get that knowledge? That is the goal of this white paper, to provide that type of knowledge so it can be effectively used by any organization to further develop a virtual workforce that is properly arranged and efficient.

The structure of the organization and its virtual workforce, along with whether there is a need for more than one structure in total, is something senior management or executives must consider carefully when developing and maintaining that workforce. Addressed here are eight arrangements for the virtual workforce, allowing organizations to choose an option that works for them or create a workforce that operates off of more than one of these arrangements for maximum quality and effectiveness. That choice will affect the organization as a whole, so it must be made with knowledge and thought.

The Virtual Networked Workforce

In a networked workforce, people are spread out geographically. The workforce may also have help from experts and others who provide guidance, but who do not actually work for the company itself. These can be advisers from similar industries or niches, consultants from vendors, or others that can help the organization and the workforce stay on track. The workforce shares topic knowledge, and they may work on a particular issue or project at the company on a long-term basis.

To some extent this type of workforce operates more like a virtual team, because they may be shifted from one project when it is finished to the next one that is starting. During that time, a re-shuffling of workforce members may take place. That would send some of the current members off to another workforce and bring some new ones in. One of the ways in which this helps is through keeping ideas in the workforce new and fresh.

Having this type of virtual workforce also allows coworkers to get to know others that they might not yet have met or worked with. At the same time, it still allows the overall workforce at the company to stay the same, so everyone becomes a tight-knit group that is focused on the well-being of the overall organization. This is good news for the workers, the workforce, the organization, and the larger enterprise as a whole.

Pros and Cons of a Virtual Networked Workforce

As with any workforce arrangement, there are both pros and cons to the networked workforce. Any organization that is considering using it will want to carefully look at these benefits and challenges in order to determine if this particular type of workforce is the right one for them. For some companies this is the perfect arrangement, and for other companies there can be a variety of reasons why it would be good to choose a different option.

The pros of a networked workforce include its flexibility, as there are a lot of different ways it can be reconfigured and adjusted for maximum benefit. It is also beneficial because it allows more of the workforce to get to know one another, which can help them work better with each other in the future. Having outside consultants or other experts is a pro, as well, since it means that the virtual workforce is not made up only of people who work in the company. Getting outside help and advice can make a big difference on some types of projects.

The cons of using this type of workforce include the re-shuffling of the participants when a particular project has ended. While some workers may welcome the change, others will feel out of place when they lose the work group they are used to. It may feel as though some people have left the company because they will not see them as much, or at all, even virtually. That can reduce motivation and lead to conflict in some cases. Additionally, having a networked workforce where outside help is included may make some workers feel as though they are not trusted or that they cannot complete the work without the need for outside help, which can lead to resentment.

Applications and Scenarios to Consider

For any organization considering the use of a networked workforce, there are a number of issues to address. Some of these are minor and can be handled at a later date or as they arise. But some of them are larger and more pressing, which means they should be addressed before the virtual workforce is even created or the type of workforce arrangement is chosen.

One of the most important applications to consider is cross-organization collaboration. With a virtual networked workforce, many different organizations can interact for purposes such as company advancements or solving strategic issues. In some cases, industry collaboration is also a good application for a virtual networked workforce. This is where members of different organizations, either within the same enterprise or across different enterprises, work virtually on specific tasks. Sometimes these are called networked task forces, and they can be very valuable to an organization.

Examples of Best Usage for This Workforce Arrangement

The best usage for this workforce arrangement is generally cross-organization or industry collaboration. Both ways of utilizing the virtual networked workforce provide significant benefits to the company in order to help it advance and grow. Additionally, this option for a virtual workforce could be used by a small or start-up company. It allows that company to bring in outside experts, giving them the help they need to move forward and to grow and develop so they can become and remain competitive.

Large companies that have many departments and organizations as a part of them can see true collaboration from this workforce arrangement. By letting the different departments choose what they need most from the virtual workforce with which they interact, a larger company could be a good fit for this type of arrangement in some of its departments or organizations.

The Virtual Product or Project Development Workforce

Any company that has a strong research and development focus, or any company that is product based as opposed to service based, needs a virtual workforce that is geared toward project development. The workforce may be united and only focused on one thing at a time, or it may be divided so it can work in groups and accomplish a lot of smaller things at once.

No matter which way a company creates its virtual workforce, though, the product or project development arrangement can be the right choice. Developing new products and coming up with new concepts are big parts of what the organization needs to do to succeed. It can do that better with the right people in its virtual workforce, and when those people are arranged in the right way.

Hiring the right people definitely matters, but if those people aren't used effectively a lot of their talents can be wasted. Naturally, companies do not want to waste the talents of the people they hire, virtually or otherwise. Doing so costs the company money and time, but it also means that extra effort is needed and that the people who are in the workforce may not be providing the company with everything that was expected of them.

In a project development or product workforce, new projects can be created and current ones advanced. New products can be developed and considered, and older products can be redesigned, updated, and improved. With so many options for this type of workforce, it can work very well for a lot of organizations. As one of the most significant enterprise capabilities, a virtual workforce that is used the right way and arranged properly can be among the most valuable qualities any company can possess.

Pros and Cons of a Virtual Product or Project Development Workforce

There are many pros to using a product or project development workforce, and these include having a workforce that understands the value of developing new things and working with new ideas. Sometimes a virtual workforce is more designed to move a company forward in other ways that are not related to products or projects, and this type of workforce would not be well-suited to a research and development company or something similar. The project development workforce reduces that problem.

There are also cons to consider when choosing the type of virtual workforce arrangement needed. For a service business, this kind of workforce would very likely not be the right one. Also, sometimes companies interpret any change as a new project and they reorganize their workforce temporarily to meet that need along with still handling other non-project duties. The same virtual workforce will generally not do well with that because it can be confusing. It also compromises the effectiveness of other, non-virtual duties.

To determine whether the virtual project or product development workforce is really the right one, management must clearly examine the goals, objectives, and expected outcome of this workforce, to ensure that they only select this workforce arrangement when it actually fits what the company needs. In addition, the development of a product will likely use a project management approach as some point, but after that product is developed, product development activities will go beyond typical project management activities.

At that point, organizations may want to consider changing their workforce arrangement to the appropriate one. For example, if the project is about developing a service, and the service is ready for operation, then a virtual service workforce will need to be created to operate that service. There is also a need for different skill sets for this type of arrangement, depending on the project or product to be developed. That may require an adjustment to the virtual workforce, as well.

Applications and Scenarios to Consider

Those companies that are committed to innovation can do well with a workforce focused on product or project development. For many companies, the term "innovation" means something significant. It is these organizations that will get the most benefit from the product or project development workforce, because of the depth of creation it will provide them. It is not always easy to design and create new things, and companies that do not do this on a regular basis would generally perform better with a different style of workforce that has less of a product or project focus. For product-oriented companies, this virtual workforce arrangement can give them the highest level of value.

Examples of Best Usage for This Workforce Arrangement

The best usage for this workforce arrangement would be for companies that are deeply focused on research and development. Not just companies that do this as part of their development of other things, but companies that perform research and development as their core ability. These types of companies may be part of the manufacturing of anything from vehicle parts to prescription medications, but they all have to do things right and they all have to make sure they perform correctly so they can remain successful. The right kind of virtual workforce will help to ensure their continued value in the marketplace.

The Virtual Service Workforce

Many companies provide a service, as opposed to a product. This can be just as valuable, and can provide other organizations with help and support. Because of the nature of these companies, though, they need a virtual workforce that is somewhat different from what is required by a lot of other organizations. In short, they need a service workforce. This is one where service to other organizations or end-user customers is offered, often on a 24/7 basis.

Creating a workforce that will perform this job is not difficult, but getting one that will do the job well can be harder. That is because not everyone has the ability to work in a customer service style of job. Some people are better at caring for and about others in ways that fit the business world. Cultivating a group of employees that is truly service-based and compassionate is a big part of a virtual service workforce.

There is also the issue of hours, as these service workforces are often asked to operate around the clock. Not everyone will be available for shift work, overnight work, or some of the other hours they are asked to provide to the company, and that can make getting the right service workforce more difficult. But some of the value of having a virtual workforce is that it can be global. What is a poor choice of hours in one person's time zone may be a great option in the time zone of another worker.

This can help to keep things operating more smoothly for a service-based company, and ensure that the services they provide are consistent, high-quality, and valuable to the users of those services. Overall, having a virtual service workforce is one of the eight main arrangements an organization will want to consider. It may not work for every company, but for those organizations that are truly service-based and that need to operate around the clock it can be a very important way to accomplish more.

Companies that are considering using this type of workforce need to be clear on what they are doing and why. They do not want to end up trying this arrangement just because they have a service-based business. While it seems like the logical choice, it is still vital that any organization look at all it has to offer and all it intends to offer in the future, and then choose the right kind of virtual workforce to meet its needs. A strong understanding of what the organization and its clients or customers want and expect goes a long way toward clarity.

Pros and Cons of a Virtual Service Workforce

Not all organizations would do well with a virtual service workforce. Among the cons of this particular arrangement is the idea that this really only works for service-based businesses. It is not something a product-based company would likely want to choose, so it is not going to be something that is open to every type and style of organization. It may also be difficult to do with a very small workforce, or without a global level of workers who are available in all or nearly all time zones. A larger workforce that is more spread out around the world is almost always needed for this type of virtual workforce to be successful.

There are, of course, many pros to a virtual service workforce. Among the largest of these pros is the idea that nearly any service-based company can use this workforce successfully. It seems to be designed with these kinds of organizations in mind, so building a virtual service workforce is often the right choice. The organization and the workforce have to be large enough, though, and the virtual workforce also has to offer enough to the company and to the clients or customers that it is worth the time and effort to create and maintain it. A global workforce that can operate 24/7 in this way can be a real advantage.

Applications and Scenarios to Consider

Any organization that is service-based and that intends to use a virtual workforce will want to consider this arrangement. Companies using this arrangement must also consider the possibility of creating both internal and external facing services in their virtual service workforce. In the case of large organizations, an internal workforce can be set up as a service provider to other parts of the enterprise. These are called internal virtual service workforces, and can be as valuable as external facing virtual service workforces for many companies.

Examples of Best Usage for This Workforce Arrangement

An IT help desk for a global organization is just one example of how an internal virtual service workforce would operate. An external virtual service workforce would perform similar tasks, but simply for companies or individuals outside of the organization. All of these companies would have the customer base needed to require a virtual service workforce. In cases of internal options, the company itself would essentially be the customer. 

The best options for use of this kind of workforce will generally be companies that are larger and more established. They also have the volume of customers calling or writing in at all hours of the day due to time zone differences, showing them that strong service and support are needed 24/7. With a virtual workforce comprised of people from around the globe in a number of different time zones, any organization can work toward ensuring that they meet their customers needs and provide quality service at all times.

The Virtual Action Workforce

An action workforce is nearly a spinoff of an action team. These teams come together, do something great for a company, and then are disbanded to go off and do other things separately. They are often focused on things such as crisis management or incident response, because they need to take action quickly and efficiently. Then, once the incident or crisis is over, they go back to the jobs they were doing before the issue occurred.

But an action workforce is slightly different from that. It also focuses on incidences and crises that require action right away, but some companies are in the business of handling those things. For these companies, having a virtual workforce that is focused on and controlled by action can make perfect sense. Managers of these types of organizations want to hire people who see the importance of taking action quickly, and who understand that fast responses still have to be thought out well and handled appropriately. Doing things the right way in these kinds of companies can save lives.

Not everyone responds well to a situation where there is a crisis or an incident, as some people "freeze" and are not sure what they should be doing or the best way to handle something that is unfolding in real time. Because of that, finding the right people for a virtual workforce based on action is somewhat more difficult and also very important. Organizations that build their business model off of incident response can use an action workforce successfully, though, when they set that workforce up correctly.

These kinds of companies may be in the law enforcement or fire industries, or they may go to medical events, mass casualty sites such as plane crashes, and a number of other types of issues. No matter what kinds of crises they are asked to respond to, though, having a virtual action workforce can make it easier for these types of organizations to get things done and reduce the chances that they will not get to everyone who needs assistance when something goes wrong. Whether they are focused on small incidents or larger ones, or both, the right workforce can help these types of companies perform better.

Pros and Cons of a Virtual Action Workforce

An action workforce is not for every kind of company, as many companies do not need a workforce that is always ready to respond in this way. For companies that do need this kind of workforce, though, it can make a significant difference. The biggest con for a virtual workforce like this is that it really is not right for most companies. Additionally, it can be very expensive to develop and maintain. Instead, it has a more exclusive level of value to it, and will not work with companies that are not focused on action the majority of the time. This is more of a niche workforce, and needs to be treated as such in order to have the highest level of effectiveness.

The biggest pro with this virtual workforce is the value it brings to the right kind of company. For any company that offers incident response, crisis management, and related services, the virtual action workforce can be just the right choice. A global workforce of this type, depending on the size of the company, can also help to ensure that there are people available to take customer calls and messages on a 24/7 basis. This could be very important when attempting to save and protect life and property, so it should be considered as part of the value of this type of workforce for the right company.

Applications and Scenarios to Consider

Among the most important things to consider with this type of workforce is that action is what it is based on. Companies that only need this type of workforce periodically would be better off creating an action team that can come together as needed. When an organization is based on action, though, that is when a workforce of this type is really required. Emergency response companies, including those that respond to digital issues such as terrorist attacks, data breaches, and cyber attacks, are often the best choices for a virtual action workforce.

Examples of Best Usage for This Workforce Arrangement

To get the best usage out of this kind of workforce arrangement, a company should generally be involved in the protection of life or property in some way, including digital property protection. This organization should also be part of immediate response to the issues that can cause harm to life or property. In other words, fire departments and law enforcement, along with companies that handle terrorist attacks, cyber attacks, and digital data breaches right away, on a 24/7 basis, are better choices for a virtual action workforce. Companies that provide insurance may not be, because they do not handle incidents and crises the same way. They may have an action team for issues and concerns, but this is not the same as having an entire workforce with this design.

The Virtual Parallel Workforce

The parallel virtual workforce has one task or type of job that it typically handles. But it is also designed to take on tasks that are related to that job when it is needed. In other words, this workforce takes on parallel work to the work it is already doing, allowing it to accomplish more and providing additional value to the organization that employs it. There are a lot of companies that could benefit from this type of workforce, since cross-training is an important part of the learning to do a job correctly for many workers.

When an employee is hired by an organization they are trained to do their job the right way. Additionally, though, they are often trained to do jobs that are similar to theirs, or jobs that have some type of overlap with the work they are performing. That lets them accomplish more, and can also help the company if another worker is out sick or on vacation. With that in mind, a virtual workforce that is parallel can keep a company running smoothly even when there are some workers who are not available for their normal duties.

Anytime a virtual workforce is created, it is vital that management take a good look at the tasks the workforce will be asked to complete. Then they can see how and where these tasks relate to one another. If there are a lot of places where tasks run next to one another or tie into each other, the possibility of creating a parallel workforce should definitely be considered. While it might not be the right choice after some study and consideration, it could be the right option for companies that complete a lot of similar tasks or projects.

The most important thing to note about a virtual parallel workforce is that it is not going to be effective for companies that are doing a lot of different things all the time. It is best suited for companies that are doing similar tasks, creating similar products, or offering similar services on a typical, day-to-day basis. There may be some outliers, but the general plan of the organization should be to provide a working environment where employees can expect to do the same tasks for most of their workday. When an organization does this, overlap and parallel work become easier for the virtual workforce to handle.

Pros and Cons of a Virtual Parallel Workforce

The most important thing any organization can do before deciding for or against a parallel workforce is make sure the pros and cons are clearly understood. The main pro of this workforce is the level of efficiency it can provide to organizations that offer very similar products, services, or experiences. The tasks that this workforce are involved with can be of almost any kind, but they need to be related in order for a parallel workforce to have the right level of effectiveness. For companies like this, though, this type of workforce is a great option for an organization.

As for cons of a parallel workforce, the biggest drawback is that it does not work well for companies that do a lot of different things. That is mostly because they do not have enough tasks for the virtual workforce that parallel or overlap one another. Because of that, a virtual workforce for one of those kinds of companies will need to have another type of arrangement, in order to make sure all the tasks get done properly. Trying to have a parallel workforce when there are not enough parallel tasks at an organization means an inefficient and ineffective virtual workforce that can be frustrating for everyone.

Applications and Scenarios to Consider

The most important scenario to consider with the parallel virtual workforce is that the workforce is offering value to the company by its very existence. If it does not provide enough value, there is no point in its creation and maintenance. By keeping this in mind, any organization that is focused on creating a virtual workforce can decide if the parallel workforce is the right one or if another configuration would be a better option to meet their needs. This is the most common way of creating a virtual workforce and it is the one most companies use. But that does not mean it is right for every company.

Examples of Best Usage for This Workforce Arrangement

In short, the best usage for this workforce arrangement is a company where there are many parallel tasks and activities. This means the workforce will be able to move smoothly from one task to another, where it might not be able to do that with tasks that are more unique or far different from one another. A company that completes many parallel tasks is a good choice for this kind of arrangement, and will likely have a much higher level of success with it, overall.

The Virtual Offshore Workforce

More and more companies are now using offshore workers for a lot of different teams, but it is also possible for an organization to develop, build, and use an entirely offshore virtual workforce. The type of company creating this workforce may make a significant difference in how well the workforce actually performs, because some types of companies are far better suited to an offshore workforce than others are. This is based on the kind of work the company does, but also on its size, its dedication to building and maintaining an offshore workforce, and other factors.

For software, IT, communications, and other types of technology companies, an offshore virtual workforce may be exactly what is needed in order to be more successful and keep customers happy with everything they have to offer. These companies may not have a workforce that is entirely virtual, but the part that is virtual can be made up of offshore employees only. There is a lot of value in that option for companies that provide communications and IT help, along with technical support, to end-user consumers and also to other companies.

In many cases, when a customer calls a technical support line for a communications, software, IT, or other type of technology company, they reach someone who is located offshore. This is common practice among many technology companies today, because it works well for them. They can offer 24/7 support and also keep their costs down, which is a benefit to the organization and to the customers who buy their products. By reducing costs and providing good support, everyone in the transaction benefits from the virtual offshore workforce arrangement.

An offshore workforce can technically be located in any country. In most cases, the workforce is spread around the globe and dispersed through a number of different locations. That works best for 24/7 technical support, because it gives people in a lot of different time zones the opportunity to call during their normal business hours. While not a requirement, this does make things easier for a lot of people. Of course, having the option to call anytime also gives people who work all day the chance to reach out for technical support in the evenings or on the weekends, adding more value to this type of workforce.

Pros and Cons of a Virtual Offshore Workforce

Just like any other workforce, there are pros and cons to having a virtual workforce that is offshore. The largest pro is the flexibility that this type of workforce offers. With an offshore workforce that operates virtually, a company can really tailor that workforce to do just about anything the company needs.

Technology companies have recognized this, and as such they have chosen to use these workforces more frequently and more thoroughly. This helps customers get more from their experience with the company and gives more opportunities for workers in other countries to join a company they have interest in working for.

The biggest con to having an offshore virtual workforce is the fact that everyone is so spread out around the globe. It becomes more difficult for an organization to have strong control over their workforce because of the virtual nature of the employment, and it can also be harder for people in the organization to interact with one another because they are not around each other in meaningful ways.

This is important to consider, because a strong workforce is one that gets along well and works together well. Organizations that choose a virtual offshore workforce may have to work harder at the development of cohesiveness in their organization.

Applications and Scenarios to Consider

Having a virtual offshore workforce means that an organization can save money, and this savings can be passed on to other areas of the organization or to customers of that company. For companies that are looking into this virtual workforce arrangement, the feelings of their customers should be considered. Some companies have come "under fire" for allegedly sending jobs overseas, so it is important that any company considering an offshore workforce understands its customer base and their likely reaction to this virtual workforce arrangement.

Examples of Best Usage for This Workforce Arrangement

The best use of a virtual offshore workforce is generally in the technology sector. That could be IT, technical support, communications, software, or anything else that is technology related. While not for every company, this type of workforce has been used by many technology companies before and seems to be one of the more effective options worthy of consideration. Keeping a technology workforce at home, whether virtual or not, is also certainly a possibility. It is up to the individual organization to make that choice.

The Virtual Production or Functional Workforce

As a very common type of virtual workforce arrangement, this is generally one of the best choices for many kinds of companies. It allows an organization to have a very diverse workforce, where a lot of different people are working independently. Then they come together on projects, or what one of them is working on is used as a part of something another person is working on. Everything ties in well together, but the employees do not work as a team in the sense that they collaborate closely on every aspect of the task they are assigned to complete.

This can be a great choice for a virtual workforce, because with people spread out all over the country or the world it can be hard for them to work together easily and conveniently. By having them doing independent things that tie together properly, they can do their own thing most of the time and not be bothered at all by the virtuality of the environment. But at the same time, they can still contribute to the company's end goals in a way that is highly efficient and very significant.

In a way, every person on the virtual production or functional workforce is completing a bit of the puzzle that makes up what the company is working toward. As they fit those puzzle pieces together, it is easy to see what is being accomplished and how goals are being met. When completed, there is a solid, strong company being built a little bit at a time. The profit and success a company can have through this kind of virtual workforce is important, and something to be aware of for companies that are looking for the right kind of virtual workforce arrangement to meet their needs and goals.

Traditional employees, customers, and others who may be affected by the virtual workforce should all be considered when deciding whether a production or functional workforce is the right idea for a particular organization. Not all companies will be right for this type of workforce, even though it is one of the most common options. But for the vast majority of organizations that want to build a virtual workforce, this type of arrangement is likely going to work the best for them.

Pros and Cons of a Virtual Production or Functional Workforce

The largest benefit of the virtual production or functional workforce is that it is extremely versatile. It can be used in almost any circumstance, with almost any organization. It is not going to be right for everything, and there may be choices that would be better, but the key to this virtual workforce is the functionality of it. Because it can be used in so many different ways and by so many different industries and niches, this virtual workforce is not only a good choice for most organizations but also a very popular one.

The downside to this arrangement is the lack of specificity that comes with it. Since it works with so many different kinds of organizations, it has to be relatively generic in a lot of ways. That is its downfall with some types of companies, because these organizations need an arrangement that is more specific.

While that does not mean there is anything wrong with the production or functional workforce, it simply means that it is not right for every organization or industry. When there are companies that are unique or that have very specific needs, this type of virtual workforce arrangement is not going to be as effective as other options.

Applications and Scenarios to Consider

For this virtual workforce arrangement, there are fewer considerations than there would be with other options. This is because the production or functional workforce is able to be used with such a large number of industries and organizations. It is not nearly as specific as many other types of configurations, and that allows it to be effective in a wider variety of applications. Still, every organization should carefully assess whether this is the right option for their needs. Companies that have more specific requirements will want to look for a different type of workforce arrangement.

Examples of Best Usage for This Workforce Arrangement

There are many "best usage" options for this particular virtual workforce arrangement. A better term may be "good usage" or "appropriate usage" when it comes to the production or functional workforce, because it can be used for such a high number of different organizational requirements. This is a truly versatile and valuable option for a strong workforce, based on nearly every type of organization and the needs and goals it has.

The Virtual Management Workforce

While this may sound like an entire workforce of managers, a virtual management workforce is actually one where the majority of managers in the organization work virtually. They manage virtual employees, and in some cases they also manage traditional employees. This is not necessarily a common way of handling a company, but it is being seen more frequently as more organizations move toward larger numbers of virtual workers.

The management of virtual workers is highly important, but if a manager can work virtually and manage traditional employees well that can also be valuable. Location is an important aspect of how this workforce operates, as well. Some managers will not be in locations where working traditionally makes sense, but they will still be the right people for the job. With that in mind, the organization can hire them and allow them to manage workers from a virtual standpoint. As time moves on, this will become even more common for higher numbers of organizations.

Not every company will fair well with this kind of management structure, but there are many companies that can see success this way. Organizations that require a heavy degree of hands-on management may struggle with a virtual management workforce. This makes sense, and would not be the right arrangement for them. However, there are many companies that do not require this hands-on tending by their managers, and for these companies it is possible for them to employ a virtual management workforce with success.

Having effective management matters, and so does having efficient management. Those are two of the main reasons for choosing a virtual management workforce, as this is able to provide most of the benefits of traditional management while also providing an organization with the benefits of virtualization. Companies can see more versatility, lower costs, and other important changes when they virtualize their management workforce. Finding the way to do this right takes time and effort, but is often well worth it for any organization looking to move toward a more virtual existence.

Pros and Cons of a Virtual Management Workforce

The biggest problem with a virtual management workforce is that managers and employees lose the face-to-face interaction that many of them have been used to in their past working relationships. Managers may have used a hands-on approach before, and employees may have experienced that. But with the changes that are taking place in the business world today, and with technology and virtualization continuing to move forward, employees and their managers must be open to trying new ways of interacting with one another in order to help organizations remain successful.

Additionally, some areas of an organization can be difficult to manage without being there "in person." For these areas of the company, it may be better to have a traditional manager on location. Other areas may be less strict, and a virtual management workforce will perform well. Deciding which areas will be good choices for a virtual manager and which areas will not is not always easy. Some companies may end up with a lot of trial and error, and that can cost them money. But there are potential downsides to any new idea, and whether it is worth investigating is up to the organization to determine.

The largest pro for the virtual management workforce is that more high-quality managers can be employed even if they do not live near the company's location. This can mean the hiring of better talent and lower costs for the company, both of which are important aspects of developing a strong organization and a beneficial virtual workforce. Hiring the right talent really does matter, and that is especially true where management is concerned. By being able to choose virtual management options, companies can secure the people they really want to hire more easily and more often.

Applications and Scenarios to Consider

The most important consideration for any organization that chooses a virtual management workforce is to be sure that they are doing so for all the right reasons. Cutting costs matters, but it should not be the only reason for an organization to choose a virtual management workforce. Some industries are much more difficult to manage virtually, and any organization that needs hands-on management would be wise to choose another option. For companies that can manage things remotely, though, there is considerable savings to be gained from using the talents of a virtual management workforce.

Examples of Best Usage for This Workforce Arrangement

The best usage for the virtual management workforce arrangement is one that allows for virtual and/or traditional employees to be managed without a hands-on or face-to-face focus. Many employees can be managed this way in most industries. This is especially true with the ability of technology to do so much in the way of communication and collaboration. Management strategies may need to be adjusted for a virtual workforce, but it is also possible to build stronger and more significant strategies that will improve the effectiveness of that workforce through virtual management.

The Value of Selecting the Right Virtual Workforce Arrangement

When the right virtual workforce arrangement has been selected, everything operates more smoothly. Not only does the organization save time and money, but it also operates in a way that benefits everyone involved in it. This includes big benefits to employees, as a recent New York Times survey indicated that 43 percent of people in the US were working remotely. This used to be the way freelancers handled their jobs, but now more and more people who have traditional jobs and standard employment are also working from home.

Not only do workers like this option, but organizations like it, as well. These organizations are saving money and time, and they are getting more done. But choosing the right arrangement for its virtual workforce matters for the organization and its employees. It is always important for an organization to take the extra time and determine which workforce arrangement to select, in order to be sure that it has located the one that will work. There will be more success for the company that way, but also a better quality of employment for the virtual workers and a better experience for customers of the organization, as well.

Often there is no need to choose from all eight virtual workforce arrangement options, because several can be ruled out quickly. But even attempting to choose between two or three can become confusing. With good knowledge of the workforce configurations available and what they offer, however, any organization can select the arrangement that is best for that organization and that will help to keep it moving forward. Attracting more talent is one of the biggest benefits of building a virtual workforce, and when that talent is not only acquired but arranged properly, an organization has the opportunity to do much more. With this in mind, any organization with plans to create a virtual workforce should choose carefully between the eight arrangements offered to it.

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