It’s no secret that technology has made the world seem much smaller. These days you can talk to someone on the other side of the globe at the mere push of a button. Companies are finding ways to ditch the physical environment of their workforce and gain the advantages that come with using remote teams. This is achievable using the right technology. The question here therefore is how has technology impacted remote team management in recent times?
Whatever you choose to call it, remote, virtual or offsite work, it is all the same thing. The workers are not working together in the same physical workplace. In a 2011 study on remote team work carried out by oDesk, 54 percent of employe who were interviewed were not particular about the location of their employees. Also, an interesting 71 percent of free agents were not particular about where their employers were based.
Technology for Remote Team Management
In today’s world, technology makes everything more convenient and accessible, and the same can be said about remote team management. Technology has made an immense contribution to the development of remote team management through improved access to communication, social networking, telecommuting, the cloud and other advancements.
Technological tools such as video chat, messaging apps, emails, texts and phone calls are highly valuable for communication among remote workers to pass messages, update on important information and so on.
Remote teams have successfully been able to integrate technology into their everyday communication processes through the use of apps and tools such as: Swiggle, Campfire, iDoneThis, and The Portal.
It is important, however, to consider both the pros and cons of remote work in order to decide whether technology as a useful tool for remote team management, or if it makes it work despite disadvantages it might have.
Pros: The Great Things about Remote Team Management
Remote work means lower overheads for the company. Money that would have spent in building company offices, keeping the utilities running and other location-related services would be saved. DailyPosts CEO, James Cummings recognizes that remote team management has various merits:
“Employing a virtual workforce had allowed us to multiply our businesses in terms of size, profit and services”.
Equally, a company’s available talent pool expands extensively with remote work processes. There is a bigger geo-scale of options to choose from when it comes to hiring. If the most suitable candidates for the company are not within commuting distance, this does not have to be a barrier, and the company can still benefit from their skills. With remote work, it is possible to assemble a team of top talent from all over the country (and the world at large).
It is also possible to acquire less expensive talent with remote work; people, who for reasons best known to them, are willing to work from the comfort of their own homes, or are based in countries with much lower costs of living. Thanks to different technologies for communication, the transactions do not have to be totally distant and faceless.
Remote work produces some of the best work because the employers are working from their place of comfort. A good example is the remote writers over at dailyposts.co.uk. They enjoy greater job satisfaction because they are engaged in the primary skills for which they were employed, and are not distracted by other responsibilities they might be required to carry out if they were in the physical office. They work a semi-flexible schedule and don’t have a commute.
According to Cisco Systems, a company that has been enabling remote work for over two decades, it achieved $195 million in productivity increases in just one year.
Cons: The Not So Great Things about Remote Team Management
An obvious problem with remote work is communication. No matter how refined digital communication gets, it is still not a 100% appropriate replacement for in-person face-to-face talks. It is more difficult to have team collaboration when everyone cannot get together physically to discuss.
Businesses who list company culture as one of their core values could be forced to compromise their values as a result of remote team management. Maintaining a positive environment and building a spirit of camaraderie becomes difficult because everyone is scattered to different locations, and almost 90% of all communication is carried out technologically, through digital means. Building a culture is still possible, but it is much harder.
Remote team management is fraught with hardware and connectivity problems. In a virtual workspace, it is a lot more difficult for employers to handle problems that result from a server being down, electricity failure or outdated equipment.
Our take: Technology has made remote team working good. As connectivity has improved the communication channels have got richer, the information sharing faster and the benefits greater. There are still environments were the workplace environment may have a productivity edge, but they are gradually disappearing.