Historically face time has been mistaken for productivity. Many managers think If Barry is at his desk he must be working. An employee working across the ocean seems much more difficult to monitor. The best way to monitor productivity is by creating metrics and deadlines. If a manager is clear about expectations and the employee delivers there is no need to question whether or not they are working or sitting on a beach chair. Perhaps they are doing both but it doesn’t matter if they are able to deliver.
The downside to being able to wear underwear while filing your TPS reports is that it probably means you are working alone. The nice thing about working in an office is the human interaction and getting to know your colleagues. While nothing virtual can replace the actual exchange of chatter over Martha’s red velvet cupcakes, opportunities for interactions and building of trust can be formed.
The creation of virtual teams will lend itself to creating familiarity between virtual workers as well as creative problem solving possibly through a discussion about shared love for the ‘Cagney and Lacy’
It can be easy for virtual staff to feel undervalued and forgotten. As a manager it is important to keep remote workers in the loop and publically credit them for a job well done to the rest of the team. If possible, bringing everyone in to head office on a semi- regular basis for team building and face to face meeting time adds a feeling of value and tangibility to the work.
Working across borders can come with its frustrations. While it’s great to be exposed to new people from different cultures unfamiliar norms and separate time zones can be the cause of misunderstandings. Having employees create personal profiles as well as a few tidbits about their country and culture will not only be a fun exchange of knowledge but also help people understand one another. Delayed responses across time zones can be frustrating but many problems can be averted by created defined response times.
Getting to know co workers in a non work capacity can be difficult when no one is ever in the same room. Using social media to create communities on non- work related subjects within the virtual workplace can be a valuable tool for building as sense of teamwork. It’s a amazing what a ‘Game Of Thrones’ thread among a bunch of accountants can do to create lasting relationships.