Laura Schoppe and I have posted several blog entries recently on the virtues of a virtual organization model, including posts on our recent NPR interview, Flex Options in the Workplace, and the benefits of a virtual team. Laura also wrote an article for Mobility Enterprise Magazine. The Fuentek virtual business model is the foundation of how we deliver consistent, high-quality, high-value services to our global clients. During the past nine years, we have recognized several key best practices and lessons learned.
Best Practices for Leaders:
- Establish, maintain, and communicate clear and concise expectations and accountabilities for all staff members.
- Maintain a focus on results, not where and when staff members are working.
- Develop and maintain just enough process definition along with effective training and mentoring programs for staff members.
- Institute an effective screening, recruiting and hiring process for prospective job candidates.
- Communicate proactively and on a regular basis.
- Invest in web-based database, collaboration and communications tools.
Best Practices for Staff Members:
- Have the ability and desire to work independently without the abundance of social interactions available in traditional organizations.
- Be self-motivated and not dependent on continual guidance, communications, and reinforcement from a supervisor.
- Be dependable and dedicated, and consistently deliver high-quality services on time and within budget.
- Establish a fully functioning home office that includes business class technology, high-speed Internet, dedicated telephone and the ability to be isolated from household distractions.
- Focus on maintaining strong time management skills, and clearly compartmentalizing professional and personal responsibilities.
- Managing a virtual team requires increased flexibility from both staff and leaders.
- The virtual organization model is more appropriate with seasoned, mature and experienced staff members.
- Effective and highly motivated staff members typically have a strong desire for independence and a flexible work schedule.
- Satisfaction for both staff and leaders requires effective and continuous feedback loops to avoid surprises.
- Leaders must invest in funding cost-effective face-to-face interactions periodically to strengthen communication, collaboration and build trust across the entire team.
Managing a virtual organization requires less time investment day-to-day from a leadership perspective, but it does require greater focus and intensity on how you effective manage your staff.
What have been your professional telecommuting and virtual workforce experiences?
–By Jack Spain