Virtual work is not a new concept, most organizations have applied it to their workforce. Virtual or remote working is a concept where your existing workforce uses a virtual medium to perform tasks. Even before the COVID situation, many startups and tech companies were given this opportunity for their employees to choose to work from home. As the word implies; virtual work is where you don’t have to be physically present on the office premises to do your work. You can do it from your home or anywhere else.
There are many benefits of doing virtual work, we will list them in a while. Having said that, many people think that it is a non-professional way to work and employees don’t pay as much attention to work as they do in offices. But this is a misconception that can only be cleared if you give it a try. A person who slacks will do so in the office as well, we all have seen employees taking a long time to chat at the water cooler or the photocopy machine. Other than that, statistics have shown that remote working increases productivity.
The myths around virtual work have all now been broken because the Pandemic made people realize the wonders of virtual work. Let us first scan through the benefits of virtual working:
The most prominent benefit you get from working remotely is the reduction of overheads. Many organizations opt for virtual work solely for this reason. When your employees are working from home, there is a drastic decrease in utility bills and office expenses. An average business can save around $11000 annually, through the remote working model.
Commute expenses are minimal as well, as an added benefit for the employees. Research has shown they can save $4500 annually on commuting through virtual work.
Every one of us has a different body clock; some are early birds while others are night owls. It is human nature that we work best according to our body clocks. Remote working allows employees to give their best work as per their timeline.
Employees are more productive while working remotely. The reason is that they are relaxed, there is stress from traffic or the office environment. They are working from a comfortable place, and in the time slot, they are most productive.
70% of the employees worked virtually during illness in COVID times. It shows employees are more loyal when working remotely. During the research, 79% said that they will be more loyal if they are allowed flexible working hours.
Employees are happier when working from home. They can balance their personal and professional lives better with remote working. 74% of employees claim that they are happier working from home as compared to brick and mortar. 50% even said that they would accept a pay cut just to work remotely.
Remote working is not just healthy for the employees, it is healthy for the environment as well. Less commuting means less carbon emission. The 4-day work model proved that the carbon emission dropped by 10%.
Switching to remote working opens new possibilities for your business as well. You can hire a talent pool from other regions and countries. Some countries offer a cheaper yet capable workforce.
Best practices to improve virtual work:
Switching to virtual work is not as simple as it sounds. There is a whole science to it. If not done properly, it will hamper your productivity and work process. Follow these pointers to streamline your virtual work, to get the most out of it.
Communication is the key to success:
Communication and collaboration among the team members and leaders are very important. Since you are not physically present for face-to-face interaction, this becomes a challenge in remote working. But with proper tools and schedule, you can easily manage it as done in regular physical offices.
There are two types of communication required in remote working. One between team members and leader, and the other between management. Communication can be done through video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams and zoom, etc. Team meetings can easily be handled through them. Data sharing and management can be done through collaboration tools like Trello, Slack, etc. Cloud-based tools and software are ideal for safe and secure data sharing.
Many Team management software like Jira, Asana, Zoho projects, etc. are also available. They help to keep a check on the progress of the projects, individual performances, attendance, and timeline of the project. If face-to-face interactions are unavoidable, you can schedule a team meeting using any virtual office service.
Define your expectations:
Before setting out for virtual work, you need to clarify what you want to get out of it and how you want to do it. These expectations include your mission and goals, project deadlines, and performance. You need to decide what kind of communication you need. How many times does your team need to report their performance? Do you want daily reporting or weekly reporting.
You also need to decide on the medium of communication. Attendance is a challenge in remote working, especially for the leader. To ensure that none of your team members is slacking, you can use cloud-based management software that will tell you when they logged in and when they didn’t. But this depends on the kind of project you are managing and the work environment you require for it.
If you have a team that is scattered in different time zones, then setting up a feedback culture is very important. As a manager, you need to identify the areas of conflict, drive better performance, and build a healthy and trusting relationship with the team members. You also need to understand how and when to help your team members individually and collectively. The only way you will be able to do so, is through consistent feedback from the team members.
Set a healthy balance:
The most important thing for successful remote working is setting up and maintaining a healthy balance between work life and personal life. Since you work where you live, both lives tend to mix up at some point. Setting up schedules and timelines, avoiding overworking, and regular breaks help you do that.
Encourage wellness and self-care in your team. Have regular breaks during work and discourage work during weekends. All-nighters might get the work done quickly but they can harm the health of your team and will eventually affect performance. Arrange team dinners once in a while. Or encouraging your team to share their interests and hobbies can also help build a healthy relationships with other team members.