Gone are the mad men of old. Where there were once boardrooms smelling of rich mahogany overlooking a rolling cityscape to the chorus of people rushing about below now is the familiar smell of home, comfort of one’s favorite leisure clothes and a screen displaying faces in far out locations. Instead of commuting through congested interstates, 43% of U.S. workers are traveling the internet highway while working remotely according to Gallup’s 2016 State of the American Workforce and that number figures to only travel in one direction.
With the amount of American remote workers projected to reach 50% by 2020 (Flexjobs.com, 2017) organizations must look at how they conduct business in the virtual sphere. For example, one can’t simply call for a meeting and have people arrive in a moment’s notice. Virtual teams and organizations now consist of people who live in various time zones which won’t always cooperate. So how does one manage to corral others and effectively manage meetings without having everyone in one room?
First, leaders must make sure they have the right tool for their teams. What is the key functionality? How many people will the technology have to support? In what ways does the particular technology improve efficiency? Second, it is imperative that team members remain flexible as schedules will inevitably conflict at some point as people may not be in the same state let alone time zone. Third, team and organizational leads must ensure their team members are engaged. This can be done by making time for virtual water coolers, having each person introduce themselves, and giving each person a job. Lastly, it is vital that leaders maintain frequent and consistent contact with team members through face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact. According to Harvard Business Review, 46% of respondents report that the most successful managers kept in close contact with remote employees. Remember that while your team may be out of sight, they cannot be out of mind. It is always the leader’s job in this virtual business world to maintain positive control of the remote (workers).
Hoping you stay tuned and don’t change that channel,