Adaptability – The new competitive advantage. In today’s volatile business environment, things are changing more rapidly than ever before. Leaders are thrown into new and novel situations to navigate and the need for adaptability is critical to businesses’ success.
As businesses navigate through the covid-19 crisis, remote working is no longer a foreign subject to many. With more professionals getting accustomed to the virtual work arrangement and having the operations planning and technological tools already in place, companies are beginning to explore the possibilities of incorporating a virtual team in their workforce planning. However, before turning this new implementation into a permanent arrangement, businesses should consider the pros and cons of a virtual workforce.
Working virtually has become a norm for most companies these days. In fact, the definition of “working from home” has expanded to not just include working from the comfort of our own house, but also essentially any location outside the traditional office environment. As the term suggests, a virtual workforce is an emerging work arrangement where employees are able to work from anywhere.
Virtual workforce enables businesses to look beyond their geographical boundaries when it comes to the search for talents. Extending your reach and tapping onto the global workforce increases the chance of finding the best fitting candidate for the opening as well as the organization. Overcome the talent crunch in your home country and bring together experts and specialists from across the globe.
A virtual workforce introduces diversity to the organization. As the team is built with professionals of different backgrounds and characteristics, it also means that they are able to bring new skills, experiences, and knowledge to the table. The team’s interactions breed innovation and facilitate knowledge and skills transfer. With an inclusive environment that is accepting and supportive of each individual’s differences and experiences, a diversified virtual team holds great potential.
Employees hired under a virtual work model enjoy the freedom to decide on their work venue. With that, it eliminates or reduces traveling time, unnecessary in-person meetings, and distractions from the office. This helps to keep the employees focused on the tasks at hand.
In addition, employees are also able to decide their own work hours and cater for certain personal tasks such as their child’s parent-teacher meeting or medical checkup, instead of having to take a full day off. Such flexibility and autonomy improve the happiness level of employees and happy workers are said to be productive workers.
Cost savings are cited as one of the top reasons why companies look to adopt a virtual workforce. With the remote work arrangement, businesses can do away with huge overhead costs such as office rental and utility bills. Moreover, the hiring of employees is no longer limited by countries’ boundaries. Depending on the skills set required, organizations are able to enjoy some cost savings from the lower wages of employees in certain geographic locations.
By hiring strategically, a virtual team can be formed with employees from different time zones. Such arrangements benefit the business operations as it extends the coverage on business hours, making their services and products more accessible to customers at any time of the day.
Employees on a virtual team arrangement tend to feel isolated from their team members when meetings and virtual get-together activities are not scheduled regularly. As most communications in the online environment tend to be task-oriented, the chance among employees to make small talks is unlikely. The usual office interactions from water cooler banter and lunchroom chitchats are missing in such an arrangement. Also, if the virtual team is made up of employees from different geographical locations, the time difference hinders the team from holding live meetings and calls.
Solution: Decide and agree upon a common time slot between all members. Schedule weekly meetings for members to interact, update and share any progress and ideas. Virtual activities such as online lunch sessions and virtual games are also highly recommended to encourage relationship building amongst members. On top of that, constant interactions via communication tools such as Skype and Slack have also proven to be effective.
Employment laws, tax compliances, and hiring practices differ from country to country. In order to hire legally, companies are known to invest a huge amount of effort to get acquainted with the laws, and the applications for any licenses or permit can be time-consuming too. This hinders most companies from hiring internationally and reaping the benefits of a global virtual team.
Solution: Partner with an employment agency such as EPS Staffing that has experience hiring in the targeted countries to avoid having to conduct the research and apply for the permits on your own. These agencies are equipped with the relevant knowledge on the countries’ employment market and can get the tasks done in a shorter time span. Moreover, they are also able to share and advise on the local hiring sentiments and practices to increase the chances of securing qualified candidates.
With employees scattered almost across the world, managing them can become a real headache for most employers. This also becomes one of the main deterrence when companies consider whether to adopt a virtual workforce. Working with a remote team requires a level of trust in autonomy that isn’t usually seen in a traditional office environment where projects can be physically monitored.
Solution: Managers are recommended to hold at least two team meetings to gather updates and feedback on ongoing projects. Key performance indicators and work deadlines should be discussed and make known right at the start to ensure that all team members are aware of their deliverables and goals. Instead of having an annual performance evaluation, these sessions can be carried out quarterly to be more rigorous in validating their performance at work. Communication will play a crucial role in helping businesses overcome these challenges.
In today’s technologically advanced world, a virtual workforce is a natural step toward the future employment model. Virtual teams have proved to be effective and given organizations a competitive edge to beat the competition. In order to reap the benefits, the right technologies and management plans have to be put in place. While the implementation of remote teams holds great potential, it is equally important to recognize the challenges involved and address them proactively to make it ensure success for the organization.
EPS Staffing Service Group Inc. is a trusted HR partner in the Philippines and a part of EPS Group that has been operating recruitment and contract staffing services over decades in SEA.