When building a virtual workforce, there are both significant benefits and serious challenges. Fortunately, it is possible to reduce the challenges and increase the benefits with the right knowledge. For managers who want to create this type of workforce and be successful with it, understanding how they can get value and what they are risking matters.
To understand all of that properly, managers have to be aware of the specific benefits they can expect and are looking for, along with the pitfalls they may encounter and how those problems can most easily be avoided or reduced. Here is what to consider.
The Main Benefits of a Virtual Workforce
There are a lot of good reasons for a company to consider using remote or virtual employees to build at least part of their workforce. The most important benefits of a virtual workforce include:
Saving Money When Compared to a Traditional Workforce
Traditional workforces require office space and other types of real estate, along with all the expenses that come along with those physical locations. With a virtual workforce, a company does not have to worry about paying for any of that.
More Productivity, and More Profit
With lower costs and a larger group of talent to choose from, it is very common for companies that use a virtual workforce to see higher levels of profit from their products or services. This can help these companies grow and stay in line with their competition.
Getting Talent From Around the Globe
A virtual workforce allows a company to choose people from all over the world, without the need for any of those selected employees to relocate. it is an excellent way to recruit professional and high-quality employees, no matter where they might live.
Newer and Better Opportunities on a Consistent Basis
Anytime a company has a virtual workforce, they can always be recruiting new talent. They can also focus on new technology and ideas, as they constantly work to better themselves. There will always be new opportunities available, and as they continue to come about the virtual workforce can be improved.
Shorter Time to Market for a Product or service
One of the biggest benefits of a virtual workforce is that more can often be accomplished in a shorter period of time. That way, a product or service that is being developed can get to the consumer faster. This shorter time to market can make a significant difference when attempting to stay ahead of competitors.
The Main Challenges of a Virtual Workforce
A virtual workforce is not perfect, and there are some challenges to building one. That does not mean it is not worth the effort, but only that understanding these challenges is important before making a virtual workforce decision. The largest challenges are:
Employees Who Struggle With Social Isolation
Not every employee is a good fit for a virtual workforce situation. Some employees do not like working on their own, and they do better in teams that are much more traditional. They need to be in an office or cubicle with their coworkers, where they can gather around the water cooler and have other types of interactions. Finding employees who are comfortable with social isolation or who can find ways to feel less isolated is very important.
The Higher Cost of Proper and Useful Technology
While the overall costs of a virtual workforce may be lower than those of a more traditional working arrangement, some of the costs are going to be higher. This includes technology, because it is a requirement to have a strong virtual workforce. Without good technology projects can still be accomplished, but it is going to take longer and there is the potential for things to fall through the cracks. Good technology costs money, but is well worth it.
Lack of Collaboration and Trust Among Employees
In some virtual workforces, employees really do not trust one another and that leads to a struggle with collaboration. While there are ways to combat much of this problem, it cannot always be avoided entirely. Managers must work to find common ground between employees and help them be comfortable with one another to reduce the chances of serious problems that can include missed deadlines and incomplete projects.
Internal Conflict Within the Workforce
Sometimes, people just do not get along. Even if they only interact virtually, they may simply not like one another for reasons they really cannot explain. Personalities may clash, or there could be cultural or other types of differences that are insurmountable. With that in mind, it is important to understand that a virtual workplace may have to be adjusted to get the right balance. It is well worth the effort, if it makes a strong, quality team the company can rely on.