Virtual teams a win-win strategy!

Virtual TeamsDay 4 of the 30 day blog challenge – “what it means to have Location Independence and Adventure in Life”. Surprisingly, I have decided to not write about myself this time. Instead I’ve turned this topic around to discuss “what it means for businesses to employ location independent staff or contractors t help achieve it’s strategic objectives”. 

Being location independent would be considered a perk to most employees, especially working mums who treasure flexible working conditions. But what about clients or employers? Why should they pay for the work to be done offsite, rather than in the control of their own premises? Many businesses have embraced this new concept with prosperous outcomes. Yet many still steer clear of the idea due to a lack of knowledge or funds that are initially required. But the main barrier is the lack of understanding as some aspects of these virtual team structures are still developing. Further research should be invested in this area to help companies produce more accurate forecasting and cost-benefit analysis.

This new concept has the potential to make a huge difference. I see the rapid change in the global market place that is in fluid motion, prompting me to dive in and be a part of this future change. I want to help promote and encourage more job creations that are location independent, benefiting not just employees, but businesses and society as a whole.

Some major benefits of adopting a virtual team strategy include the following:

  • The elimination of geographical and time dispersed barriers increases the available talent pool
  • Productive diversity – a global team brings a mix of specialised skills and knowledge
  • Generally, virtual teams are more productive by taking more ownership of their responsibilities
  • There is a significant decrease in carbon emissions and energy costs
  • It greatly assists in creating gender equality by attracting female professionals back to the workforce
  • Other cost reductions such as hardware, insurance, real estate, and travel

Depending on the industry, size, and culture of the business, the weight of these benefits will vary. The challenge is promoting these benefits as they can be uncertain, indirect and intangible in nature. There shoould be careful consideration on the chosen technology being implemented. There can be increased training, software, implementation, and maintenance costs. Another consideration is the language barriers however, nation-based virtual teams are always a possible option.

There are many other factors which need to analysed, for example; workplace culture, building trust in teams, and brand imaging, require a larger amount of resources in comparison to the traditional structures. Also, research shows many people actually prefer to travel to a workplace away from home. Imposing a virtual arrangement may decrease staff morale. There is also the job satisfaction that social interaction brings, rather than be isolated and relying on their own self-motivation. And then there’s the elephant in the room – real people. Skype or any other highly-engaging network software will never be able to compete with real life interaction.

After considering all the above factors, overall I think businesses and individuals are being too slow in changing their mindset. While still arranging for staff to travel to the workplace for meetings or social events so that consistency can be maintained, businesses forget that many tasks can be completed virtually.

With more real life case studies and increased awareness through media and word of mouth, more businesses be willing to invest in this type of re-structure. The end result being a reduction in road traffic, carbon emissions, and increased production efficiency to further boost the economy.

Thanks for reading. If you have any opinions or information regarding this topic I would love you to share in the comments below. Or if you would like to know more about this, check out the links below. There is plenty of great material available.

http://onlinemba.unc.edu/research-and-insights/developing-real-skills-for-virtual-teams/the-rise-and-staying-power-of-virtual-teams/

http://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=e0DTT2DKOScC&oi=fnd&pg=PR10&dq=virtual+teams&ots=g4Kdw5v7qJ&sig=AI4W9zKxur5lYngsXBl_WvlmJbY#v=onepage&q=benefit&f=false

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