did you know?

Nearly 60 percent of workers believe that telecommuting at least part-time is the ideal work situation.

IBM saves $700 million in real estate costs by allowing 25% of its worldwide employees to work from home.

wise words we heard

Businesses that ignore the possibilities offered by emerging technologies risk becoming dinosaurs.

 

Virtual workers are defined as people who work from home, from the road, from anywhere that isn't a traditional office.  The common denominator for all virtual workers is that they communicate and perform work duties almost entirely through electronic technology.  Going virtual makes sense for many workers, not just the people you see plugging in at coffee shops around the globe: Gen Yers just starting out, older workers phasing into retirement, people who need a custom-fit because they have restricted physical abilities or live in remote geographic locations, or two-job families where being close to both jobs is impossible.  High- and low-wage employers have found moving to virtual work productive and profitable.  Call centers, sales teams, individual consultants - even entire organizations - have all found this new way of working to be virtually perfect.

Virtual work can create a more robust business overall, as it has been shown to cut workplace costs and produce more satisfied, productive employees.

 

Adopt a performance-based management philosophy. Look more at results and less and whose car is in the parking lot.

Use technology in innovative ways to promote team building. Consider going beyond the basics of phone and email in order to help create a close group and help workers connect. Set up a community home space featuring pictures and profiles of team members, a discussion board, a team calendar, or a chat room.

Show respect. This might mean being sensitive to members who speak English as a second language, or paying attention to language and cultural differences, business protocols - even time zones.

Design fair and consistent guidelines for who can take advantage of virtual work.

Meet in person, too. Many companies that adopt virtual work also have regular retreats or in-person check-ins. This promotes team cohesion.

Remember that workers cannot be available 24/7 and will need boundaries to make virtual working successful for both themselves and the business.

 

When making a case for a flexible work arrangement, cite the business benefits of higher productivity, less time lost commuting, worker loyalty, decreased absenteeism, improved health and sometimes reduced real estate costs.  (SeeStudies and Research)

Create an expectation of clear work/life boundaries. Just because you are now connected to work at home or on vacation doesn't mean you should be online 24/7. Clarify what will work well for you and your employer.

Be realistic but open-minded about virtual work's plusses and minuses. While it fits well with some jobs, virtual work isn't a good fit for others.

Consider stepping up the frequency of communication. This can mean checking the team's calendar or sending an email after every phone conference to document and confirm the action plan. Find out what will make this work well for everyone.