Remote Workforce Challenges and Advantages
A remote or virtual workforce is beneficial for companies of all sizes. Now more businesses have contractors and employees who work off-site then on. Working from home is so common now that one out of three employees will do so at one point in their life. So what technology do business owners and managers need to effectively manage a remote workforce?
High speed Internet providers and powerful home computers with web-based applications are both responsible for the exponential growth in home offices, virtual tiger teams, and the general remote workforce. A recent survey done in the Harvard business review showed that more than 75% of the 2000 workers queried participated in at least one virtual team. The number of people working from home increased by 80% from 2005 to 2014. In 2008 during the great recession the remote workforce actually grew 4%. It is clear that this phenomenon is not going to slow down, and businesses that do not gear up to take it vantage of it will be left behind.
The easier it becomes to create effective environments for low productivity the more business owners and managers are going to actively create them. Virtual teams have advantages that their traditional counterparts could never have. They have flexibility for employees, management, scheduling, location, and environments which improve the engagement of individuals on the team as well as the management surrounding them. They also save money reducing the amount of office space required. A report in 2013 showed that businesses can actually save $11,000 per remote worker they have within a company. That can add up for larger corporations.
The ability for workers to collaborate across the country or the globe invites additional diversity and problem solving and a growth and innovation by tapping into a talent base that would otherwise be unavailable. Virtual teams allow companies of all sizes and provide all manner of business solutions, products, or services to find the best people with the right skills and a perfect fit regardless of location.
A consulting report in 2014 indicated that many employers surveyed found their organization had improved its efficiency by more than 40% by implementing virtual teams and remote arrangements. A study at MIT that was designed to investigate global teams and their effectiveness, found that establishing virtual teams and managing them effectively required an entirely different management style environment than what was being seen at the time in traditional office-based workplaces.
MIT concluded that the four factors that are required to be successful with a remote workforce are picking the right people, choosing the right management leadership style, clearly establishing structure and expectations, and utilizing the appropriate technology to allow managers to do their jobs.