Employers often complain about productivity in the workplace, and with good reason: almost two trillion dollars are lost each year due to low productivity. To help improve productivity, many businesses are turning to technology. One of the main ways technology can help improve the workplace is by giving rise to new sectors, ideas and — fewer of doing things, as we have seen with Bangladesh’s service sector growth. Technology’s most important disruption to business might just be the elimination of the traditional workspace and the growth of virtual teams and remote work.
The Growth of Virtual Teams
Telecommuting has been around for quite a while, and it is only growing in popularity. Businesses are slowly beginning to realize the benefits of allowing employees to work from home. Fewer employees on site equal major savings. The office space doesn’t need to be as big, not as many desk computers are needed, fewer cubicles need to be purchased, fewer amenities need to be stocked, less electricity and bandwidth is required and so forth. As a result, not only are employers allowing more employees to work from home, but some businesses operate on a completely remote basis, with no centralized office space at all.
Managing the Virtual Team
That isn’t to say that virtual teams don’t come with their challenges. It’s vital for managers to understand the importance of developing their team, even if it is a virtual one. The importance of developing strong relationships with team members doesn’t just go away without physical proximity. Communication becomes all the more important when the environment is entirely virtual. Use technology to your advantage and leverage tools like persistent IM, workspaces and other platforms to stay “plugged in” to each other.
Virtual teams are already at an advantage because the talent pool is theoretically unlimited. While a centralized physical business can only consider candidates who are within commuting distance, a virtual team faces no limits at all. This means that virtual teams can be more diverse than traditional teams because the usual barriers facing recruitment for traditional teams just aren’t there. And of course, virtual teams provide a much better work-life balance since members do not have to plan their lives around the traditional “get up, go to work, work, go home” schedule imposed by the old way of doing things.
It might seem intimidating for a business to become virtual, especially if it has existed in a traditional formation for so long. But in business, it’s important to try out new ideas and see what works best. Don’t stand on ceremony and let a powerful innovation pass you by.
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