If it seems that telecommuting, or virtual work, is more popular than ever, it’s not hard to see why: a new report from Global Workplace Analytics (GWA) and FlexJobs shows that it has grown by 115% in the past decade.
And it shows no signs of slowing. In fact, GWA also reports that 50% of the US workforce holds a job compatible with at least partial teleworking, and that 80 to 90% of the workforce would like to work remotely at least part-time.
Part of the reason stems from the fact that 80% of married millennials have a dual-income household that leaves little time for recreation – so any time gained by working from home is attractive. In fact, as millennials make up more of the workforce, employers are using flex work to attract top talent that might balk at the idea of having to go to an office every day of the week.
Key elements of virtual team building
As more companies embrace virtual work, however, they discover that many of the benefits outlined by GWA fail to materialize, and that their teams exhibit a number of negative characteristics outlined in a Forbes report:
GWA Benefits of Virtual Teams
- Employers can save $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year
- Half-time telecommuters gain 11 days back per year – time they would have spent commuting
- Absenteeism decrease of 31% with half-time telecommuting
- Increase in productivity and morale
- Increase in loyalty to employer
- Organizational agility
- Improved work-life balance
Forbes Challenges of Virtual Teams
- Feelings of isolation
- Lack of social interaction
- Low levels of trust
- Miscommunication and cultural clashes
- Loss of team spirit
As GWA notes, it is only “well-executed programs” that can help employers achieve the desired benefits.
Keys to managing virtual teams
The question for today’s employers is this: Are you ready to transition from a face-to-face model to a virtual one? To help answer that question, consider the following:
- Working virtually means more than taking a laptop home – it requires a culture change that embraces digital workflow and communications tools that maximize productivity and teamwork across distances.
- Well-executed virtual teams take the time to learn communications strategies and techniques that build trust and camaraderie without ever being in the same room.
- Effective virtual teams have well-defined processes, accountabilities and methodologies that streamline and simplify workflow.
In short, simply offering flex work may get the employees you want in the door, but without investing in the skills and processes that make virtual teams perform, those same employees may not deliver the results you expect or stick around for long.
A great way to set your virtual teams up for success start is with an assessment from Virtual Team Builders. Your business can thrive in a virtual, telecommuting world – and we can help.