Knowledge workers can now work remotely from anywhere in the world. Thanks to tools like Fuze, Skype and Gotomeeting.com, we can communicate in real time and face-to-virtual-face. And with programs like Google Docs, we’re able to work collaboratively at all hours.
The question, then, is not whether we have the right technology to simplify the process of virtual communication—it’s how to effectively manage workers.
With these seven tips, you’ll be on your way to effectively managing your virtual workforce in no time.
1. Establish clear roles and responsibilities
When employees aren’t present in the office, it’s especially important to agree upon clear roles and responsibilities anchored in the company’s vision. A great starting point is letting the employee establish a list of each day’s essentials that define her role with the company. While this is a rather easy task, it’s often neglected and assumed to be clear.
2. Create aligned goals
Any strategic plan begins with clear goals. Project management software, such as Basecamp, is great for creating overall visibility of goals. Find software that allows you to comment and have discussions online so the employee working remotely has a resource to stay up-to-date.
3. Insist on clear communication
Communication can easily get lost in the stress of the day, especially when your employee is out of sight. Having a set time where you always catch up helps you foster clear communication and helps those who are remote stay in touch.
4. Focus on collaboration
The heart of an organization’s ability to innovate is rooted in collaboration. Virtual workers miss out on small talks over coffee and chats in hallways. Nevertheless, there are activities to boost collaboration. Advise your employees to spend 30 minutes a day speaking to one of their coworkers. With no clear agenda, this can often lead to simple small talks. But it can also lead to innovation. Plus, it’ll resolve the “out of sight, out of mind” problem.
5. Reconceive the physical workspace
If you have virtual workers in one region, it makes sense to arrange coworking spaces, or urban hubs, to create cultural alignment, idea generation and fellowship. Flexible, communal and transparent workspaces can benefit your company and employees. And if you don’t have the resources, companies that offer collaborative workspaces such as Coco are continually growing.
6. Reconstruct workflows
Highly specialized people working from home need on-demand, easily accessible and centralized systems that provide controlled access of knowledge and information. This includes investing in intuitive technology such as Infosys that relies on the popularity of social networking sites to connect virtual workers around the world.
7. Recognize individuality
The more you’re able to tailor tasks and responsibilities to individual work preferences, the more you’re able to motivate and engage different work personalities. In today’s world of corporate guidance and overall compliance, our recruiting practices must be flexible to respond to individual needs and wants. Flexible hours, relocation, travel and commission are just some factors that enhance our value proposition.
We can’t stop the shift in the workplace. But by following these tips, you can be closer to your virtual workforce and gain more insights into the aspects of their business day you can’t control.
What’s your secret to effectively managing your virtual workforce? Do you work for a company that does a great job in easing your online contribution?
Mona Berberich is a Digital Marketing Manager at Better Weekdays, a Chicago-based company that has developed a platform to help HR leaders source, screen and develop talent based on job compatibility. She is a researcher and writer covering HR, career growth, talent management and leadership development.