Managing a Growing Virtual Workforce

Managing a Growing Virtual Workforce

In 2017, the workforce is becoming much more mobile. In fact, many experts suggest that telecommuting may be the future of work rather than having a fully staffed office.

Such a future, then, opens a world of issues for the average manager or business owner.

How do you ensure that work is being completed? Enforce workplace rules and practices? Create an effective and pleasant company culture?

For the proactive manager, these could be questions that keep you up at night. But, there are a number of ways that you can ensure your virtual workforce is well managed no matter the distance.

Learning them now can be vital to the future of your business.

Communicate

If you think communication issues can crop up in an office full of people sitting beside one another, then the potential for poor communication from across the country is huge.

Team chats, video calls, and catch ups are extremely important in the virtual workforce. It helps you to regularly touch base with everyone and keep track of what they are doing, the progress on a particular project and simply if they have any concerns/feedback that could help you.

Not to mention, the lack of casual chats in the workplace can be a detriment. If a worker is having a problem, a simple chat to a colleague could ease their worries or solve it in a fast and simple way.

But, working remotely removes this possibility and may actually aggravate such issues. This distance from co-workers can also mean your team is not collaborating or communicating with each other as much as they should be. Ensuring they have a chat line dedicated to team talks or sharing of information is vital for a productive virtual workforce.

But, working remotely removes this possibility and may actually aggravate such issues. This distance from co-workers can also mean your team is not collaborating or communicating with each other as much as they should be. Ensuring they have a chat line dedicated to team talks or sharing of information is vital for a productive virtual workforce.

However, it must be noted that too much communication can quickly turn into pestering. This is a fast way to distract your team from their actual work and cause it to be undone. Keep all communication to a necessary amount.

Share the Lingo

An important aspect of communication for your virtual workforce is the language that you communicate in. Whether in English or Mandarin, it is vitally important that you all share a common language.

This is, largely, in order to ensure nothing gets lost in translation (literally). This is not as difficult when dealing with technical subjects such as technology and engineering, as it is a universal language more or less. However, for projects that have a larger language of ambiguity then confusion and miscommunication can easily occur.

Thus, it is important to set a specific language and language of terms in order to ensure no miscommunication. Agree that when we say the sun we mean the burning ball that hangs in the sky during the day. Obviously a very basic example, but one that should be applied to all important terminologies your team may come across.

Maintaining Productivity

One of your biggest fears when it comes to a virtual team must be, without a doubt, the issue of whether or not they will be productive at home. It’s all too easy to imagine the many distractions that being out of the office presents being the death of productivity.

But, this doesn’t have to be the case. There are a number of ways that you can ensure that your whole team’s productivity is always on track.

From team calendar apps such as Trello and TeamUp to actually tracking the hours worked by your team via apps such as Hours.

Not only can your whole team have a consistent idea of what one another is doing, but you can also see how long it took them to do so and pay them accordingly.

You can also go through the process of your very own app development. Doing so you can tailor to the needs of your company and the continued productivity of your virtual workforce.

Rather than relying on someone else’s idea of business and productivity, you can create an experience which will allow your virtual workforce to be the best it can possibly be.

Deliverable Goals

The key to working out if your team is working and actually being an asset to you is to have deliverable goals. If by the end of the week X, Y and Z has been achieved then you can see the accomplishments of your virtual team.

And if they haven’t? Then you know that better productivity incentives or communication lines need to be opened in order to keep the workflow of your team up to standard.

Detailed tasks are also a good way to ensure everything is done to a standard you expect. Setting out the process and what you expect at the end. Doing this, should theoretically, mean the work is completed as expected. Communicating expectations as fully as possible is sometimes the best way to manage your virtual worker’s final outcomes.

Real-Life Meetings

Managing a virtual workforce in real life? Is this witchcraft? No, it’s just common sense really. Sometimes you need the face to face contact to really communicate an important message or even work out some key next step for your business.

This doesn’t necessarily mean gathering the whole team in one location, with a worldwide team this is a logistic nightmare if not completely impossible, but face-to-face meetings are possible via Skype. For many, it can be beneficial to put a face to the email signature!

For many, it can be beneficial to put a face to the email signature!

Alternatively, if a real-life meeting is vital for your business on occasion then it is important to recruit a team that is within a reasonable traveling distance of your business. Asking someone to venture halfway around the world for a quick meeting is, after all, not entirely achievable.

Recruitment

Managing a virtual team is all well and good, but how do you actually go about managing them? Such a question can be one of the biggest difficulties when it comes to managing your budding virtual team. However, there are a number of steps which make the whole ordeal much easier to navigate and resulting in a brilliant virtual hire.

Firstly, never skip or miss out the face-to-face meeting. Whether via Skype or another video calling method, looking your candidate in the eye is key to any hiring process.

This does not change simply because the role is remote. You can assess their non-verbal language as with any normal interview, as well as determine whether or not they are who they say they are.

Also, before making a full commitment to someone it is important to test their skills. Offer them a paid project to complete before their transition into your team is official. If they claim to be a brilliant writer, but then come back with a piece littered with typos and the like then you know they oversold their skills to you.

The same can be done for any number of skills that are essential for your virtual team. Importantly, it can help you to filter the viable candidates from the dead weight.

Ultimately, recruitment for a virtual team is as complicated and tricky to navigate as it is in real life.

Conclusion

With more and more people choosing to pursue a career away from the stress and hub of the city, ensuring you have the right understanding and capabilities to manage a virtual team is vital for the future of your business.

Whether you have a number of freelancers working for you or a permanent out-of-house team, knowing how to keep their productivity up and communication high is key. As freelancers and remote workers are the future of the workforce.

Do you think you have what it takes to be an effective manager to this workforce?

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About Zack Halliwell

Zack Halliwell is a fanatic dog walker by day, freelance writer by night. You can find him at @ZackHalliwell

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