Virtual teams involve a remotely-based workforce and work across various time zones and locations. Companies often turn to virtual employees to reduce operating costs and gain a competitive edge. They can, for instance, choose to hire virtual employees for IT solutions instead of building an-house team.
This strategy, however, will not provide automatic and immediate benefits. Businesses need to consider their reasons for going virtual and whether they have the opportunity and resources to make this transition effectively.
Work from Home Statistics
Statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the amount of employees working from home increased from 19% in 2003 to 24% in 2015. Rates for those in the management, business, and financial operations industry were highest at 37.8%. On the other hand, rates for those in production occupations were lowest at only 5.5%.
Benefits for Companies
Below are some benefits that virtual teams can provide:
- Cost Savings – Compared to in-house employees, virtual teams are less costly to hire and maintain. Employees who work off-site allow companies to save on operating expenses like utilities, equipment, and office space. Small businesses, especially, can benefit from these substantial cost reductions if they cannot afford an office large enough to house all the employees they need. In addition, this setup allows organizations to hire employees at a much quicker rate. Companies can grow their business by increasing their workforce without the need to match this with an investment on expanding infrastructure related to hiring in-person employees.
- Flexibility – Virtual teams provide organizations the flexibility to take part in the competitive global marketplace. Companies can hire virtual employees across various states and countries to work together for a common goal. Employees are provided flexibility in their ability to set their own schedules and balance personal and work commitments. Greater employee satisfaction can improve a company’s retention rates.
- Improved Productivity – A study by Harvard Business Review determined that employees are more productive when they work from home. They are less likely to call in sick and often continue working even when they are away on vacation. The study also found that remote employees worked about five to seven more hours per week than in-house employees did.
Readiness of an Organization
A virtual team is not suitable for every business. For those unprepared with adequate technology infrastructure, for instance, remote employees may pose a logistical challenge for good communication. This is especially true for those working in various locations. Companies can implement project management software and workplace productivity applications for virtual teams to operate effectively and ensure the creation of foundations of trust among team members.
Organizations need to continue monitoring the productivity and efficiency of remote employees. It can be more difficult to gather data and conduct performance reviews on these employees than with traditional ones.
Virtual teams can improve employee productivity and job performance and reduce overall job turnover for a company. Proper software and tools can help businesses effectively implement and capitalize on the advantages of virtual employees.