Virtual Workforce Best Practices and Lessons Learned

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:

  1. Establish, maintain, and communicate clear and concise expectations and accountabilities for all staff members.
  2. Maintain a focus on results, not where and when staff members are working.
  3. Develop and maintain just enough process definition along with effective training and mentoring programs for staff members.
  4. Institute an effective screening, recruiting and hiring process for prospective job candidates.
  5. Communicate proactively and on a regular basis.
  6. Invest in web-based database, collaboration and communications tools.

Best Practices for Staff Members:

  1. Have the ability and desire to work independently without the abundance of social interactions available in traditional organizations.
  2. Be self-motivated and not dependent on continual guidance, communications, and reinforcement from a supervisor.
  3. Be dependable and dedicated, and consistently deliver high-quality services on time and within budget.
  4. 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.
  5. Focus on maintaining strong time management skills, and clearly compartmentalizing professional and personal responsibilities.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Managing a virtual team requires increased flexibility from both staff and leaders.
  2. The virtual organization model is more appropriate with seasoned, mature and experienced staff members.
  3. Effective and highly motivated staff members typically have a strong desire for independence and a flexible work schedule.
  4. Satisfaction for both staff and leaders requires effective and continuous feedback loops to avoid surprises.
  5. 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

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Posted by Jack Spain

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