How to implement the virtual workplace
Ideally, your virtual workplace will see employees happily ‘telecommuting’ a few days per week. They’ll work seamlessly with their colleagues – whether they’re in the physical office or their local café – via an online working hub. And, they’ll be more productive due to having fewer distractions and less stress from a long commute.
Creating this positive environment, and sidestepping potential risks that can arise with virtual working, will require a little planning and implementing certain precautions.
So, how can you create a virtual workforce that is positive, functional and effective? Your first step should be to set up a virtual workforce with strong foundations and then follow best practice to ensure workers get the most out of this approach. By implementing the following five steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a powerful virtual workforce.
1. Evaluate and assess
As with any new business initiative, you need to draw up the pros and cons of creating a virtual workforce. Is it really appropriate for your business? And if so, which departments in particular? Your business may not be at a mature enough stage to warrant a virtual workforce; sit down with a project team and map out the costs and benefits of this approach and decide if it’s really the right thing for the way you work. What would be the potential benefits? And what drawbacks might arise?
2. Choose the right technology
Virtual workforces are only possible with the appropriate technology in place. It’s therefore worthwhile to assess a range of products from major providers. Some companies choose to opt for a major provider that can offer a central tool (such as Microsoft’s Office 365) to access everything virtually. Others opt for a ‘mix and match’ approach, using different tools from a range of smaller providers for more specific processes.
3. Test, then deploy
Before initiating your virtual workforce company-wide, it’s best practice to test the new approach with a small team.
Learn lessons from that team and draw up some best practice guidelines before deploying company-wide.
4. Set clear expectations
When employees are working remotely, they should have a clear understanding of the work they are expected to do.
While in the office, it can be clearer what tasks they should be doing, and they are typically given additional ad hoc tasks as and when such work arises. By contrast, at home, their ‘to do’ list might be less obvious. You should ensure you have a system to manage people’s task lists, diaries and provide visibility into people’s activity.
5. Communicate and collaborate
There is a huge range of available tools that allow the virtual workforce to communicate – many of which might be more appropriate than lengthy email chains that inundate inboxes. Your virtual workforce can benefit from a diversity of instant messaging tools; ‘WhatsApp’-style enterprise text messengers, VoIP (Voice over IP – such as Skype) and online applications which allow for more natural and immediate conversations.
From choosing the right technology to advising on change management and providing training, Synergy Technology can help you seamlessly implement these five steps.
Contact Synergy Technology today to find out how.
Don’t employees need a certain amount of ‘face time’?
Humans are social creatures, so there is enormous value in being together in the office; encouraging collaboration and the sparking of new ideas. You might adopt a policy where employees can come to the office flexibly, perhaps working from home one or two days per week. Again, using the right tools – be that an enterprise social network or regular VoIP meetings – can encourage a similar degree of interaction to what office-based colleagues would have anyway.
There is already evidence that more and more businesses are adopting virtual workforce options for their employees. So what would the virtual workforce look like in your company?
We illustrate here some of the positive statistics for adopting a virtual workplace:
Is it safe to have our data accessed from outside the office?
Whether it’s HR files or legal documents, you may feel concerned about the security of employees accessing your company data from outside the office. The security risks are no different even if you never let that data out of sight. Setting up a secure, permissions-based password protected system is essential. You should also have a clear policy that all staff understand, and use mobile device management software to ensure you can manage and monitor how employee devices are being used.
Contact Synergy Technology today to find out how we can help you to create a bespoke virtual workspace that fits around how your business operates.