Ask anyone today how a typical workday goes for them and you’d get varying answers. People just don’t go to work first thing in the morning anymore. While many still work around typical schedules, a growing number have shifted to become a part of a virtual working environment, working when they can, when needed, and wherever they are. Companies big and small are catching on, realizing the many benefits businesses can reap from turning project management virtual. And many benefits it has, whether you choose to go fully virtual or simply work with a virtual team.
The virtual scene
In 2010, 20% of the US adult working population was classified as teleworkers. This modest cut of the pie in turn translates to about 26.2 million individuals part of the overall workforce in the country that have made a business change to take advantage of the virtual realm. Hiring managers and senior leaders of Fortune 500 companies with at least 5,000 employees were surveyed in the same year and results showed that 61% of the respondents believed their companies would let more people accomplish work virtually over the next three years. About 60% of office-based employees are already using virtual tools on a daily basis anyway so the move isn’t exactly a giant leap. Three years later and the virtual, flexible, wall-less workplace has gone mainstream. Maybe this has to do with not only company needs changing but the higher premium jobseekers place on the kind of workplace culture an employer can offer. After all, virtual workforces are much more flexible than traditional ones, implementing the use of management tools to get the job done without the usual limitations of time and space.
Making sense of going virtual: The virtual management challenge
Anyone who has worked with any sort of project management system knows how important efficiency is because it determines just how much can be done within a certain period of time as well as the level of quality of each accomplished task would have. In a fast-paced world, you’re only as good as the results you produce so you can’t make do with using just any kind of collaborative software nor can you take building your virtual team lightly. To ensure you’re up to the task of taking care of your needs and the needs of your clients, you need to know what’s happening out there. And what’s happening out there can easily be summed up by which trends are currently in place.
The guiding light that are trends
There are different trends affecting different aspects of your virtual team. For example, from the Human Resource standpoint, trends have to do with the kinds of skills a virtual team should have in order to be effective. In terms of collaboration software, trends tell you which apps are highly regarded by virtual teams so you’ll know which ones to check out. While popularity doesn’t guarantee that an app will be your best friend, it does clue you in on what works for other people. And if it works for others with needs similar to yours, then this increases the likelihood that it will be able to take care of yours.
The virtual maneuver: Quick starter tips
While a virtual workforce opens up so many possibilities for a company to grow, it is not for everyone. Some businesses will benefit from fully going virtual while others may find that finding a compromise between a traditional and virtual work management system may be the best route to take. To help you make the most out of making the virtual management change, it pays to start off on the right foot.
- Arm yourself with the right tools
Different companies have different needs so what works for one might not necessarily be the same for you. This shouldn’t be much of a concern though because there are a lot of collaboration tools you can take advantage of. With these tools, you can share documents and make presentations, for example, without any trouble, boosting efficiency and productivity in the workplace wherever your team may be working from. You may have to go through a trial-and-error period though until you find what works best for your virtual team but there’s no harm in this most especially when many of these collaborative tools are available free of charge.
- Beat the odds with an even deck
How a virtual team turns out depends on who its members are. While it’s understandable why you would want the best of the best in your field, you should focus more on diversifying to ensure you’ve got all your bases covered. This isn’t to say that you should actively avoid experts though. Rather, this means instead of getting a group with similar talents and expertise, you should opt for a virtual team whose members all bring something to the table. Differences may have the potential to cause trouble in virtual management but more often than not they can also be complementary. Complementing skills bolster your team’s potential so you end up doing more, which can only be good for your company.
- Be generous with rewards, big and small
When you’re heading program management, your main focus lies on results. Virtual teams are more output-based so it doesn’t matter if you’ve clocked in eight hours of work as long as what was expected of you has been delivered. There’s emphasis on quality over quantity and for the most part this has helped companies boost productivity. But you know what really drives people to do their best aside from ideal conditions? Knowing that their best efforts will be recognized, you’ll be surprised to find out that recognition doesn’t even have to translate to monetary gains. So when your company goes through a growth period and you know that could only have happened because of your team, show them your appreciation. Even a virtual pat on the back will go a long way.
Riding the wave of the future
With the internet’s growing reach, it has become possible to do more through it and with it. Get yourself hooked up with the right virtual management tools and you can do business anywhere and however you please. Details like your location become secondary because efficiency and productivity get more priority. With all the technology available to you, there just aren’t enough excuses to get in your way. Even best practices for creating a virtual workforce have been laid out for you. The future is connected more than ever and you’re more than welcome to join the party.
Author: Jona Jone was a mortgage originator in Philadelphia, PA and is now a Business and Property Specialist. She writes about real estate investment, business, parenting and living. Follow Jona on Twitter.