The ability to work virtually makes your company stand out – both for customers and colleagues – and is ever easier to achieve.
The virtual workforce is not a new concept. For instance, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have been available in businesses since the 1980s. Similarly, the advent of email – and fax before that – has allowed employees to work from a distance for decades.
What has changed, however, is the speed and ease with which virtual working is now possible. For instance, cloud technologies allow colleagues to collaborate on documents instantaneously wherever they are on the planet. Tools like Skype for Business allow for real-time communications regardless of location, and the explosion of mobile technology means people really can be ‘at the office’ wherever they are.
The ability to work virtually presents significant benefits for your business – from reduced staff turnover to higher productivity and less stress. We explore why in more detail as well as looking at some of the practicalities of creating your own virtual workforce – it’s easier than you might think.
If you think that your business can benefit from a flexible workspace and you would like to consider adopting a virtual office for you and your employees, Synergy Technology can advise you and provide the technology to make it happen!
The virtual workforce is about more than just the available technology. It also needs to be seen in relation to a range of additional trends which are beginning to affect businesses everywhere.
- A demand for greater flexibility:
The virtual workforce is now widely possible. As a result, many employees have come to expect that they will have the option to work from home a couple of days per week. The employers that allow for virtual working are seen as more attractive by prospective job seekers.
- The ‘gig’ economy:
The last decade has seen an explosion in the number of people in the UK describing themselves as self-employed. Offering a virtual working environment gives you the opportunity to rapidly provide external employees access to your environments.
- Sustainability and employee satisfaction:
There aren’t many workers who relish a long commute to work. Not only are season tickets expensive commuting is also stressful and can be harmful to the environment. Allowing employees to work virtually and travel to the office less often can have multiple benefits.
Boost productivity, cut stress and reduce turnover
Data from the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey found that last year, around 13.7% of the population works from home, a figure which is constantly on the rise. The benefits of creating a virtual workforce are significant: YouGov research published in October 2015 found that 30% of virtual workers felt that their productivity increased when they worked remotely. The PGI found that 82% of virtual workers were less stressed than office-based colleagues and a study by Stanford University found that employee turnover dropped by as much as 50% at companies with a virtual workforce.
This all represents an exciting opportunity. Nevertheless, employers have valid concerns about the virtual workforce. Managers need to feel they can trust employees to actually do their jobs.
Regulated industries may feel nervous about employees accessing sensitive data from their local café and many workers might miss the interaction and relationships they build with colleagues.
Create the virtual workforce that is right for you
As with any new technology or management trend, the way you react to the opportunities it presents will determine its success. Understanding how the virtual workforce could be applied in your business, and implementing it in a way that brings about change positively, will take long term planning, strategy and change management.
Done well, you will be excellently placed to reap the rewards of this new workforce evolution years in advance of your competitors.
Contact Synergy Technology to discuss how you can develop your office to offer employees a flexible and modern virtual office. For further information about the virtual workforce, read our online magazine.