Remote staff model is no more an idea, but has come of age
Remote staff model also known as virtual staff model, distributed staff model or anywhere worker model, comes with its share of advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, employers get a chance to develop a team without geographical boundaries and resourceful pipeline of applications, besides reducing the expense of rented workspace.
This is mirrored in a recent study that listed a number of global companies including IBM, Microrsoft, General Electric, Amazon, Apple, Dell, American Express and Wells Fargo who chose to hire remote workers to give their customers a better experience, improve staff productivity and above all cut overall costs.
Advances in communication technology and internet access have made remote staff model acceptable and viable for organizations across geographies. For the employees, staying connected and collaborating with the reporting managers from homes, coffee shops, co-working spaces or even on-the-go have become hassle-free more than ever before.
Further, digital applications like videoconferencing are helping remote workers to seamlessly execute their work flow. Live video feeds help remote staff to see, speak and interact with one another in real time, from anywhere as best as having face-to-face meetings. It is even said that such technology helps avoid unnecessary meetings and avoidable confabulations.
For a successful remote staff model, firms must roll out a bouquet of modern technological tools and applications to start with. Remote workers need remote collaboration tools and software to do their work seamlessly.
Such technologies include group chat and notifications, web and video conferencing, project management, employee engagement and performance management tools.
Besides, file-sharing platforms, and project management and time-tracking tools, new adaptive analytics and secure data-access technologies are also essential for the success of remote staffing mode. Specifically, advanced analytics help remote employees prioritize their workflow thus saving time.
On the negative side, remote employees and their superiors often feel that they are not in touch as is the case in a traditional office set up. While supervisors need reassurance that the remote staff is working to their best ability by putting in the necessary time for work, remote workers on the hands worry about not being taken care of like regular staff. To surmount this, companies should ensure that remote staff are placed in the regular feedback loop.
Another challenge for the companies following a distributed staff model is to find ways to make a cultural connect with remote workers who are from varied social, ethnic and linguistic milieus.
For this, the firms have to first set their core values and communicate them to the remote staff in a clear fashion. Setting the company values and culture should not be treated as an end in itself. It is equally important to document them with a futuristic vision and put them in black and white in an inimitable and inspirational style.
For remote staff, getting the hang of the company’s work culture may be a bit difficult as there is minimal face-to-face interaction between the onsite and offsite staff. However, the documentation will make the task simpler and easier. The document should unequivocally spell out the company’s culture to everyone in the organization right from their joining dates. The document should be clear about expectations, how performance is measured, and how the firm assesses employees for their cultural fit.
The firm should make extra efforts to revisit the company’s core values and culture on an ongoing basis. To groom a positive company with distributed staff, firms also have to monitor its culture and values constantly.
Finally, firms with remote workforce should make their cultural thoughts public. A slew of companies have already started doing so by putting their cultural deck on public domain since they have direct implications for organisational-level corporate governance. If any employee steps out of these sacred lines, then the firms get a natural insurance against potential litigations.
It is also important for corporations to put their cultural templates and values together and share it on the public domain. Such steps of transparency and making the do and don’ts public will not only ensure a better cultural bond within a multicultural organization but also helps the remote staff make a better cultural fit. On the balance, remote staffing model is an idea whose time has finally come.