Since information technology (IT) started to play a major role in the organizations, the virtual workplace has sprung up as an alternative to traditional work environments. We have seen the emergence of this new trend with telecommuting (working offsite) and the practice has evolved into completely virtual teams, where employees collaborate closely even though they are physically in different countries. Of course, that does not apply to all types of employment, and for the moment, we observe it mostly in the fields of Technology, Sales and Recruitment. Still unknown by many, this new trend is real and has been part of my daily life for 5 years now. I had the chance to start as a semi-virtual employee (I had to go to the office on a determined frequency) and my role has evolved to be completely virtual. This progressive transition gave me the chance to gradually adapt to my new environment and demonstrate to my employer my ability to perform in such context.
While this trend offers many benefits, the costs savings is probably the most important. Imagine the cost reduction for an employer in terms of office space and utilities! Take IBM for example, they have saved more than $50 Million in real estate costs since the implementation of their virtual workforce, according to Global Workplace Analytics. (Http://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/resources/costs-benefits)
Thanks to the Internet and video conferencing (Skype for example), the computer is the only working tool I need in my day to day. With just one click, I can meet colleagues or clients no matter where I am in the world. Moreover, the productivity increase is significant since the employees have access to their workstation 24hrs, and losses due to distractions in the workplace are greatly diminished. Thus, customers receive the best service, with exceptional flexibility for a competitive price.
However, this innovative model also involves major challenges that can quickly turn into disadvantages. Let’s buy amoxicillin online take computer technology as an example, a small problem at this level can result in huge loss, in terms of individual and collective productivity. Reliable and safe systems are required, but also, a competent IT support team that offers adapted services for remote problem solving.
The human factor also needs to be considered in a role like mine. Although physical distractions are diminished, communication channels must be provided to encourage human contact. Failure to do so could result in a loss of team spirit, motivation and confidence, which would result in loss of productivity. Here are some virtual tools to stay connected: internal chat, discussion forum like Yammer (https://www.yammer.com/), social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and others. With this technology it’s possible to bring all your employees together, no matter where they are in the world. Indeed, with tools like WebEx, Join Me or Skype, you can now organize virtual events, like the Christmas Office Party, with no cost related to it.
In addition to the benefits mentioned (cost savings, work/family flexibility, increase in productivity) and the challenges (technologies, human contact), certain personal skills are needed to be successful in such model. If you are considering joining a virtual team, you need to be disciplined, have an excellent work ethic and organizational skills, considering that the level of supervision and coaching is limited. For the employer, this implies having good results measurement systems in place as well as adequate management processes.
Finally, as this model depends on the technology and this last evolve rapidly, nothing is static. We have to constantly adapt to changes and our resilience is solicited in many ways but this is a low price to pay, if you want to be part of what will revolutionize the business world.