Companies have adapted to the emerging trend of building a business from home. This new work setup has been subject to scrutiny by experts in the business industries. As with any key business decision, it’s essential to examine and analyse the pros and cons of transitioning to a virtual workforce and running your business in a home setting.
Creating virtual teams is said to be advantageous as it is cost-effective, it can save you time, and it promotes a balanced work-and-life routine. However, it also has its fair share of disadvantages because of its very nature: being remote from one another can cause miscommunication and many other problems.
In spite of this, the benefits of a virtual workforce far outweigh its disadvantages. If you’re considering making the shift, here is how your team can build a reliable virtual workplace—and what to watch out for when building one.
What Is a Virtual Workforce?
A virtual workforce refers to a workforce not bound by physical or geographical location. As the term suggests, it’s an organisational structure where employees work remotely. It allows professionals to work outside of a traditional office environment.
How Does it Work?
Working from home or telecommuting has become popular these days because it is said to be flexible and offers fast delivery of results. Instead of commuting to the office, employees use technology to finish tasks or projects through virtual teams.
They maximise IT and telecommunication tools such as phones, teleconferencing, emails, and cloud software in communicating with one another—essentially, these are all part of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies.
Different Types of Virtual Teams
Virtual teams are geographically dispersed teams or remote teams that interact with the use of electronic and digital communication. It has different types, and each type varies on the lifespan, objective, goals, and roles of members:
- Networked Teams have cross-functional members that have different expertise to work on a specific issue. This kind of team is fluid wherein leaders can add or remove members. For example, once your role is finished on a specific task, you are removed from the team.
- Parallel Teams are created to develop recommendations in a process or a system. They must complete their work at a scheduled time. Members are intact in this kind of team to be able to work on another set of projects or tasks in the future.
- Product Development Teams include members who are experts in new products, information systems, or organisational and operational processes. They work on a variety of complex tasks for a long period.
- Service Teams are composed of members who work closely with the customers of the company. They provide assistance or support to their customers concerning the services offered by the company.
- Work, Production, or Functional Teams have members who have individual roles. They work independently from one another and have clearly defined roles. Production Teams, for instance, work regularly to produce an individual output and combine to create a product for the company.
- Action Teams are created when a crisis arises. They work for a short period to address contingency plans in the company.
- Management Teams are composed of managers of the organisation to discuss corporate-level strategies that are needed for virtual managing.
- Offshore Information Systems Development (ISD) Teams are usually created by software development outsourcing firms. Tasks are outsourced to other countries that have teams at two different locations, which function in a give-and-take-of-results system.
Big companies and even small and medium enterprises have adapted the work from home policy in their organisation. Virtual work can be both scheduled and flexible.
Depending on the work from home policy practised by the company, the employees must work on business hours, usually from 9 am to 5 pm. Meanwhile, flexible virtual work gives employees the freedom to set their work hours as long as tasks are completed by the set deadline.
The Benefits and The Downsides of Switching to a Virtual Workforce
Businesses running with a virtual workforce have seen great changes in their organisation. Establishing virtual teams to work on a telecommute type of work has advantages that encourage more companies to transition.
4 Advantages of a Virtual Workforce
With virtual work, employees work from home instead of going to their offices, thus saving them both time and money when commuting. Companies also do not have to lease big real estate spaces to accommodate their workers. Overhead expenses like bills for energy, transportation, and other utilities are greatly reduced as well.
2. Saves time
Since the employees do not have to travel or commute from their respective homes to their offices in this kind of setup, they have more time to work on their tasks and be productive. Companies can also veer away from arranging unnecessary meetings that take away the time and resources of employees.
Discussions in virtual meetings are typically quick and precise to let the employees prioritise their work. This increases productivity, as employees do not have to undergo bureaucracy that slows down decision-making on things.
3. Extended working time
Companies can now operate 24/7 by creating shifts for their virtual teams in different time zones. This makes their services and products more accessible to their customers at any time of the day.
4. Work-life balance
Working from home has given employees the freedom to have flexible work hours and to have more time for their families. With this, they can balance both their work and personal duties more efficiently.
4 Disadvantages of a Virtual Workforce
In contrast, there are also several downsides to this kind of setup:
Since workers do not have physical interaction with one another, miscommunication often happens in this virtual work. Nonverbal communication can be misinterpreted, which may result in a lack of common knowledge and trust.
2. Prone-to-dissection workers
Working remotely makes it difficult to engage with one another. Since everyone is miles away from each, scheduling of activities that promotes teamwork and seamless collaboration is often challenging, especially without the right tools.
Additionally, separation from one another is common in virtual work compared to office-centric companies, where it is much easier to talk to colleagues and build relationships with them, which leads us to the next point.
3. Alienation of workers
Office work at home is very different from a traditional work environment. They work on their own, even when they are a member of a particular team. There is a less social interaction that detaches the workers from the people within the same organisation.
This lack of physical and social interaction may impair employees’ skills to collaborate and communicate with one another, and may often cause loneliness. Loss of trust and conflicts arise when workers feel alienated, which hinders the success of a virtual team set-up.
4. Might reduce cohesiveness
While virtual teams can choose their work hours, they may become fragmented, which makes it difficult to gather them and collaborate during emergencies. Without a proper communication system in place, cohesiveness and efficiency in work functions may be greatly reduced.
Boost Virtual Team Collaboration with VoIP
A lot of companies who follow a work from home policy invest in different technologies such as VoIP that can aid them in addressing the issues that hinder the success of their operations. With the right VoIP provider, companies can easily overcome the disadvantages of working remotely.
Companies can partner with communication systems companies like VoIPTech Solutions to help them seamlessly setting up and managing their virtual teams.
VoIPTech Solutions is a telephony company that offers VoIP-based communication services such as VoIP phones and Unified Communications Systems.
VoIPTech’s Wave, for instance, allows businesses to set up a phone system in just 5 minutes. Employees can actually configure this type of VoIP system by themselves.
For businesses running virtual work, this is hugely beneficial since workers can easily use the internet to send and receive calls and messages through a range of devices—laptops, mobile phones, telephone handsets, and desktop—without the downtime.
This is perfect for work at home settings to promote seamless communication. A VoIP system allows for an efficient way of communicating with different virtual teams. Connecting with teams is quick and convenient, which saves time for a more productive work environment.
In addition, VoIPTech also offers a unified communications system called Communicator, which has a number of more sophisticated collaboration tools that help in promoting better teamwork and engagement across virtual teams.
Tools such as teleconferencing (both video and audio), internet fax, call monitoring and management, file sharing, and many more are all offered in a unified VoIP system. This makes managing and monitoring teams easier for managers.
And since everything is done through the web and are available through multiple platforms, collaboration tools can be accessed anytime and anywhere to easily bring together remote team members. With VoIP, the interaction between teams becomes smoother and faster, which addresses the issues of separation, dissection, and poor teamwork.
VoIP also offers advanced features that traditional phone systems lack, such as cloud integration and data encryption, which promotes privacy and security, not just for your businesses’ and employees’ data but also your clients’.
Providers like VoIPTech also provide 24/7 customer service to address issues immediately. This is especially crucial for companies and online businesses to bridge any communication gap that comes when systems are down.
With the fast-paced society, we have today and the emergence of advanced technology, businesses from homes have increased in number. While creating a virtual workforce has become a new trend because of its many advantages, mainly to save on expenses, it’s not without disadvantages.
Investing in VoIP technologies such as VoIPTech’s Wave and Communicator can help in addressing technological problems that cause misunderstanding, lack of camaraderie, and cohesiveness among virtual teams.
If you’re interested to learn more about VoIP and how it can make your business from home prosper and your remote team to work more efficiently, visit https://voiptech.solutions/. You can also reach us at 0203 745 0201 and [email protected]