Just a few short decades ago, the idea of a “virtual office” could have easily fallen in the realm of science fiction. Today, it’s reality.
With information technology playing an ever greater role in the daily operations of organisations, cloud offices are beginning to replace the traditional bricks and mortar buildings, office spaces and cubicles. The Internet and various technologies have enabled this transition, allowing companies to create virtual teams that can work together regardless of where they are physically located.
Companies across the globe are leveraging technology to retain resources that no longer have to be located in the same office, the same city or even in the same country. However, before making this transition it is important to consider both the benefits and challenges of managing employees in an online work environment.
Running a workplace that doesn’t require employees to all be located in the same office (or be physically present in the office at all) can drastically reduce overhead costs by eliminating expenses such as rent, furniture, equipment, office supplies, business travel, etc.
With the speed of the Internet and sophisticated software applications, projects and daily business functions can be completed with increased speed and effectiveness (at any time and from anywhere in the world) resulting in saved time and money.
What do a sales consultant in New York, a software engineer in Singapore and a graphic designer in San Francisco have in common? They are all part of the talent pool that virtual workplaces can tap into by having the flexibility to hire experts across a wide geographic area.
If I can’t see my employees, how do I know that they are working?
This is one of the most common concerns when it comes to managing employees who are working remotely. How much time are my employees spending working versus tweeting, updating their Facebook status and checking personal e-mail? Are they taking longer breaks than they should be? Since the in-home employee is out of a manager’s sight, businesses must find new ways of managing work productivity in the online environment.
Am I using the right online tools?
CloudLuxe Voice, Skype, DropBox, Google Calendar, GoToWebinar…these are just some of the tools that allow companies to work more effectively online. For example, CloudLuxe Voice allows companies to connect with its employees, customers and partners all across the world while enjoying significant savings on telephony costs. Failure to leverage tools that support the needs of your virtual office can lead to a decrease in productivity.
How do I facilitate social interaction among my staff?
In a traditional office setting, a lot of the employee interaction happens away from the workstations. Lunch rooms, lounges and hallways are where casual conversations happen between colleagues. But in organisations where not everyone works under the same roof and most of the activities happen online, the “human aspect” of the interaction is lost. The result – lack of face-to-face contact could lead to decreased team spirit, trust and productivity.
Perhaps Andrew S. Grove from Intel Corporation said it best: “You have no choice but to operate in a world shaped by globalization and the information revolution. There are two options: Adapt or die…”
With more and more companies jumping on the virtual office bandwagon, the urge to “follow the crowd” can be hard to resist. But is your organisation prepared to make the transition and accept remote work as an option?
Migrating to the cloud office without first considering the advantages and challenges, as well as ways to address those challenges, can turn out to be more harmful than helpful. How well a company is able to adapt to a shift from the traditional workplace to the one that has no geographical boundaries will ultimately determine its success.
Whether it’s your in-house IT department or an outside IT company that’s working on rolling out a virtual workplace strategy for you, there are several important questions your organisation should consider.
Here are just a few to think about:
IT companies like GCOMM have successfully embraced the changes happening in the workplace and have a thorough understanding of the business-scape today. They understand the challenges associated with transitioning to the cloud office and have created a wide range of customised solutions that fulfill the specific requirements of your organisation. For example, services like CloudLuxe Connectivity and CloudLuxe Security deliver IT infrastructure that easily adapts to your businesses strategy, allowing more of your employees to work remotely, be mobile and enjoy flexible working conditions.
According to The 2012 Virtual Teams Survey Report: