There’s an obvious appeal that comes to mind when you first think about telecommuting. Many global companies — including Aperian Global — allow employees to telecommute. The benefits of a remote workforce stem from allowing employees to spend more time in their comfort zones, but does it always lead to increased productivity? Most recent studies point to “yes,” but there are many considerations to make when deciding if telecommuting is right for you or your company.
Estimates claim that about 2.8% of the global workforce works from home at least half of the time. Although this number seems low at first glance, consider the fact that the number of people who work from home has increased 103% since 2005. There’s no denying that there is an upward trend of work-from-home flexibility in society today — and this trend does indeed come with many benefits, such as the following:
It’s clear there are many advantages of telecommuting, so why do some companies allow employees to work from home, but others don’t? The majority of managers trust their employees, but one-third say they feel more confident knowing they can collaborate with and oversee their employees while they’re working.
Back in 2013, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer ended all work-from-home policies at the multinational technology company. Mayer claimed the decision was based on her desire to improve the company culture and bring employees back to working side-by-side in an effort to communicate and collaborate more effectively.
Mayer’s decision received much backlash from the media and people supporting telecommuting, but others agreed that working from home could diminish the innovation that often comes with casual conversations and collaboration around the office.
The conversation is twofold: Employees who work from home help companies reduce overhead costs, experience greater satisfaction in their jobs, and they’re more productive, but companies ultimately have the discretion to not offer work from home policies — or revoke them — if company leaders believe that managing a virtual workplace decreases speed or hinders collaboration.
Companies thinking of adopting a work-from-home policy should consider the following four metrics to determine if it would be beneficial:
There are pros and cons of working from home. Every organization is unique — what may work for one may not work for another — but society is advancing in a way that’s leading to more virtual teams and opportunities to work remotely. Once a company decides to implement work from home policies, it’s wise to consider the possible roadblocks to success.
Remote workers must possess self-discipline, as well as the drive to stay motivated to complete their daily tasks. If they don’t possess these qualities, or they struggle with their daily work responsibilities while working from home, negative consequences can begin to surface.
Some of the challenges and obstacles virtual workers face include the following:
Luckily, challenges bring with them opportunities. Company leaders managing remote employees can take action to circumvent the possible negative effects of remote work. They can require remote workers to check in with another employee or manager every day, simply to engage in a friendly conversation, and enjoy some personal facetime to break up the workday, as would be normal in an office setting.
Understanding how to manage virtual teams is crucial to the success of employees working from home. Beyond this, it’s critical that employers offer technology that supports a successful work from home environment, such as:
Company leaders who believe that telecommuting takes away from productive, face-to-face conversations should consider that virtual collaboration creates more unified communications and higher employee engagement when used properly.
In short, if you use the right tools, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: Your employees can interact with one another as if they’re in the same room, and they can experience all of the benefits that come with working from home. It’s possible to reap the benefits of personal interaction, successful collaboration, and a productive work from home environment. This is possible with the right tools and knowledge for virtual collaboration.
Virtual collaboration helps address employees with diverse working styles, and it’s been proven that the best teams leverage diversity to achieve long-term success. In general, there are four types of employees:
Of course, employees can encompass a few — or all! — of the above ways of working. Most people, in fact, process information and approach tasks in more than one way, but the idea is that the best workplace teams include diverse workers and thinkers.
Virtual collaboration offers a profound way to cater to employees with diverse working styles. For example, detailed-driven workers tend to excel in virtual environments. They typically have no trouble planning their workday and accomplishing daily tasks. Emotionally driven individuals may prefer to speak directly over the phone or face-to-face in a video conference, because they typically read social cues very well and prefer verbal communication. Idea-driven workers thrive when facilitating change and usually prefer a lead role in brainstorming solutions, so you should consider giving them more responsibility when strategizing in the virtual setting. Data-driven workers are highly adept at solving complex problems. They don’t typically need an extra push to stay on topic or on budget, but they may prefer to work alone quietly rather than lead a virtual group discussion.
Managing remote teams can be complicated, but as long as leaders understand their employees, offer appropriate tools for remote success, and cater to their working styles, they’re likely to experience positive results.
Successful remote team management blends trust, communication, consistency, and an understanding of the possible challenges that might arise. Here are a few tips to consider:
Even with the right tools and adequate planning, virtual teams in the workplace can pose unique challenges for global companies of all sizes. An experienced talent development firm can help companies navigate the trials that come with virtual collaboration across cultural boundaries. Choose to work with a firm with a validated inventory in the market and a proven record for success.
Aperian Global works to help individuals, teams and organizations to work productively and efficiently across boundaries. Our team includes 170 consultants and over 4,300 country specialists. We offer over 1,800 training workshops in 15 languages and have clients in over 60 countries.
Aperian Global offers facilitated programs specifically for global teams and virtual collaboration, including:
The right teaming solution can mean the difference between mediocrity and excellence. Over the last four years, we’ve experienced a 350% increase in requests for virtual training programs — a testament to the need for top-notch virtual teams that drive organizations forward.
Contact Aperian Global today to learn more about our learning programs.