In late 2015, FastCompany, outlined 6 workplace trends for 2016. Top on the list was Remote-first Businesses. They highlight that rather than companies becoming remote friendly, they need to be mobile. “Companies who are looking for an edge, looking for the best talent, and they see they can hire someone in three days, that’s where you see companies building remote-first workforces,” says Rich Pearson, the senior vice president of marketing and categories at Upwork. So how is the virtual employee trend impacting your business? Whether your business is just dipping its toe in the virtual concept waters or plunging in head first, virtual workforces can offer great value if careful planning is done. So what should you plan for?..….actually everything. How do you attract talent (on-demand-resources), hire and onboard, manage people and measure productivity, and create a learning environment that is truly designed for a virtual workforce. According to The Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SIOP), learning how to work with virtual teams and maintain high levels of productivity, will be a big challenge for businesses. Older established companies are adapting in new ways, like IT giant Hewlett Packard who made major changes to its Work From Home policy. It started requiring their workers to live within 50 miles of an HP office. One benefit of the close proximity is to be able to bring everyone into a common office for weekly, bi-weekly or monthly meetings. HPs overall effort was to increase collaboration among its employees. Their “all hands on deck” policy was also used to build a stronger culture of engagement…and possibly provide more visibility and accountability in their newly designed virtual workforce. Here are three steps you should take to prepare for a virtual workforce:
Build a virtual employee onboarding process: Use video conferencing, e-meetings and online tools to simulate the traditional in-person interview in a virtual workplace. Create employee onboarding resources in the form of videos, shared documents and other job specific training on-demand.
Set Goals, Coach & Engage Frequently: Put tools in place that measure productivity and establish accountability. Keep employees tied closely to one another with software that promotes collaboration and enables virtual teams to be dynamic and highly empowered. Promote employee engagement and monitor the success of goals and objectives. Last and most important, communicate with your employees by using methods that facilitate consistent and frequent feedback.
Provide On-Demand e-Learning Tools: Prepare for the on-demand-available-anywhere classroom by utilizing Internet (webinars and podcasts), virtual classrooms (that are online and instructor led) and cloud-based courses that are 24/7. Developing employees to create your own “top talent” is going to be of great importance, says 84% of the executives surveyed by Deloitte in their 2016 Global Human Capital Trends. “….learning opportunities are among the largest drivers of employee engagement and strong workplace culture – they are part of the entire employee value proposition, not merely a way to build skills.”
In our digital world, communication can be timely, efficient and better when we understand what it takes to compete in a virtual environment. The workplace is changing….watch for my next blog: How to Reinvent Your Corporate Strategy.