With the advent of modern internet technology and services like mobile devices, web conferences, and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telecommunication services, the virtual workforce is becoming the norm for many businesses. It is becoming common to see companies who have large numbers of their employees working remotely, either from home, in another state or country, or permanently “out in the field”. Being physically present is no longer a necessity for many employees, and this can be a great thing for conducting business – but with fantastic advancements in telecommuting comes an even greater importance on how to manage these out-of-office teams.
Here are a few things to consider when approaching how to lead your new-age virtual workforce.
It should be no surprise that one of the biggest fears a manager faces when considering remote technology like VoIP communication systems is that their employees may take advantage of the potential lack of physical oversight. By not being in the office, they may take longer breaks or not provide the full days work that is expected of those who sit in the HQ office.
By setting ground rules (and even requiring regular activity reports) will make sure everyone is aware of what is expected of them. This can also help minimize micro-managing your virtual workforce, as it is as much of pain for leaders as it is for those they lead when too much time is spent chasing people down. Managers can also take advantage of many of the features contained in VoIP phone systems to alleviate worry, as you can check to see when remote employees are available versus when they are “away”, and you can keep in constant contact via passive instant-messaging to ensure lines of communication are not lost.
Requiring that your virtual workforce is available is just as necessary as ensuring that you are available as a manager also. This expectation works both ways, so it would be beneficial for everyone to use your VoIP phone systems to keep your virtual door always open. Allowing your remote team the ability to contact you whenever necessary gives them the confidence to stay on track, as offering that security only to those in the physical office is not only unfair but non-conducive to productivity also.
Let your remote workers know they can reach you via your VoIP connected phone system when they need you, either via direct phone calls or through voice notes or instant messages. VoIP is a handy tool for all involved, and at no extra cost there is no reason you shouldn’t be using it to stay connected with your teams that need your guidance most.
Your communication with your virtual workforce is only as good as the technology you choose. If you are relying on landline phones then there is going to be a large amount of information and communication that is lost or missed. This is why VoIP phone services are such a boon for business; you can centralize all conversations on one system, ensuring that all messages are deliverable and handled at appropriate times.
With the right VoIP phone system, your remote employees can be reached and reach you everywhere they go. Instant messages can be sent and received either from their home office or their mobile devices out in the field, and voicemails are delivered and accessible at any time. With the right VoIP phone system for your business, your remote team can be just as effective as your physical office team without losing any of the important communication needed to run an effective business.
All of the same skills and qualities a good manager or leader employs to motivate a productive in-office workforce still apply to the out-of-office teams. It just requires a little bit of tweaking and re-imagining to make those leadership skills work with the new virtual workforce. Do not deny your remote employees the benefits of your managerial abilities; use VoIP and other technology solutions to ensure that they are just as well supported and encouraged as their office counterparts. You will see first-hand how well your virtual workforce can operate with diligent and understanding direction and motivation.
Contact an ECI representative to find out how you can better manage your remote workforce with a VoIP solution.