Experiencing success in a virtual workforce can and does happen, but there are some key factors that need to be employed to make that level of success the highest possible. Fortunately, these factors are easy to do in the sense that they are not deeply complicated.
They just need to be done correctly, and managers who want a good, strong virtual workforce should focus on these factors above other things. Then managers can see success in their virtual teams and also have peace of mind for meeting their organizational goals. Here are five of the most important factors for success in a virtual workforce.
1. Select the Right Virtual Workforce Members
The people really do matter. Managers need to choose people who are good for the workforce and for working with one another. They also need to choose people who have the necessary skills and meet the requirements of working well in virtual teams.
If the employees hired are not true team players, or they struggle to connect with others in a virtual environment, they may not be the right choice for a company's virtual workforce needs. The skills these employees have also matter, because it is important for everyone on a virtual workforce to bring something unique, valuable, and important to the group.
2. Define Success Clearly and Thoroughly
If a virtual workforce does not know what they need to do to be successful, or what success means to the company for which they work, their chances of performing at or above expectations are very low. Defining what success means to the company and the virtual workforce's manager matters.
The project on which the employees are working must be completed, but there are deadlines to meet, specific requirements to strive for, and much more where true success is concerned. Managers who define success thoroughly and directly right from the start are much more likely to see quality from their virtual workforce.
3. Build Strong Social Ties and Trust
When members of a virtual workforce do not get along with one another, socialize with each other, or trust each other on the project they work on together, serious problems can occur. For managers who want to have a successful virtual workforce, working with employees to build high levels of trust and strong social ties are crucial areas of focus.
While not always easy, it is very valuable for virtual workforces to get to know one another beyond just working on a project together. Otherwise they are basically strangers, and strangers are not inclined to be open and trusting with one another. The more they know about each other as human beings, the better they may do as a team, as well.
4. Receive Quality Support from Leadership
A virtual workforce is generally going to be much more successful when they have good leadership support. Managers can provide that by keeping a dialogue open with employees at all times, and reaching out to them frequently. There can be some concern about virtual workforces being out of sight and, therefore, out of mind. But a good manager will reduce that problem and work to ensure that all employees who work virtually feel included.
While a virtual workforce is tasked with doing the best job it can as a whole, how much support is given to the group and to the individuals who make up that group is a big part of their success. This is partially because the support they receive helps them to feel more capable and secure. Additionally, it makes a virtual workforce feel valued and appreciated when they receive a lot of support from management. It can really make a big difference.
5. Encourage a Hands-On Management Style
Giving a virtual workforce permission to manage themselves, and allowing them the freedom to make decisions on their own, is one of the ways to move them toward success. While they need support and guidance from management, they also need to understand that they are not being micromanaged. They are capable of handling things on their own, and making things work so they can keep moving forward toward the completion of their assigned project.
With this hands-on style of management within the virtual workforce itself, small decisions can be made without the need to reach out to management. That is good for the flow of the project, because it needs to keep advancing. If every small decision brought the virtual workforce to a standstill, it would be very likely that deadlines would be missed and other problems would appear.
In short, allowing a virtual workforce to manage themselves but also giving them plenty of support from a company's leadership works very well when it comes to success. With the right people, strong ties between them, and a clear definition of what success means for their project, a virtual workforce can accomplish great things.