How Virtual Teams Can Be Successful

Working remotely used to be an exception but it’s fast becoming the new normal. As technology advances and workplace preferences evolve, firms are employing more virtual workers. And recent research shows remote labor can translate to added benefits for employers and employees, like increased morale and productivity and decreased business expenses.

A 2019 International Workplace Group study of more than 15,000 businesses across 100 countries found that 85 percent of respondents confirmed an increase in productivity after adding workplace flexibility for employees. In addition, 80 percent of respondents said they would choose an employer that offers workspace flexibility compared to those that don’t.

These results shouldn’t be surprising. Afterall, traditional office environments can present an overwhelming amount of distractions. When managers request impromptu meetings, co-workers’ spark non-work related conversations, random phones ring intermittently and someone brings leftover fish for lunch, employees can lose focus. And even though remote work environments pose different types of distractions, employees have more control over preventing them than they would in a traditional office.

Another major benefit for employees who work remotely is the removal of a daily commute. This can translate to reduced weather or traffic-related tardiness and commuter frustration, which often sets the tone for an employee’s entire day.

Business also benefit from a remote work environment. The study found 65 percent of firms reported a reduction in capital expenditures and operating expenses after providing workplace flexibility. Firms reported better risk management and portfolio consolidation. This makes sense, given employers spend less on office space, furniture and supplies when employees work remotely.

Despite the benefits, creating remote work positions and teams can still pose challenges.

Remote worker enthusiast and high tech worker Kilani Paulik said firms should start small and go slow as employees set up home offices and establish consistent schedules. She also said getting management buy-in is a must.

“It is absolutely crucial that you have a strong management team who trusts their resources,” Paulik said. “Having a small and close-knit team has helped TalaTek establish a company culture despite not having an office to congregate in.”

Once a virtual team is up and running, employees must practice excellent time management, take ownership of responsibilities and be great at communicating, Paulik said.

“I had to learn quickly how to manage my time on a daily basis and how to become my own project manager on a small scale,” she said. “This challenge did allow me to grow and manage a team as those opportunities arose.”

According to TalaTek CEO and Founder Baan Alsinawi, “At TalaTek, we embrace a virtual workforce that ultimately benefits our clients. By being a distributed workforce, I am able to hire the best of the best regardless of where they live, and provide them autonomy to do their jobs, which I have found produces a higher level of performance, commitment and diligence.”

Paulik said she predicts global remote work opportunities will only increase.

“As rents rise, commutes get longer, caregiving responsibilities are shared and 24/7 availability becomes the norm, most companies are going to want to consider some remote work opportunities,” she said. “A virtual environment may prove the most cost-efficient and allow the retention of talent across a broad geographic area.”