Virtual Office Featured Article
August 20, 2012Training Virtual Office Workers to Be Productive from Home
By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Cloud Computing
In today’s age of mobility and the increased use of smart devices, many organizations give employees the option of working from home, whether on a part-time or full-time basis.
Often “creative”-type positions get a bad rep for not being able to be as productive if the mood doesn’t strike them, or the creative juices don’t seem to be flowing. But if they take the right approach, businesses can train creative workers to be productive while working virtually, according to a Business 2 Community article written by Amie Marse, the founder of ContentEqualsMoney.com, a content generation firm.
Keeping tabs on virtual office workers can be challenging in many ways. When it comes to training, many employers offer videos to acclimate the employee with the company’s culture, policies and other important information. Marse recommends implementing a tracking feature to ensure all videos have been watched till the end. She also suggests having a scheduled follow-up conversation with each individual and to give creative types a way to repeat things back to you in their chosen medium.
“For writers, tell a story and ask how it would end. For graphic artists, have pictures for them to fill out,” Marse said.
Keeping Tabs and Goal-Setting
Often virtual workers are inundated with directives via email, whether from a client, a superior or even a peer. Managing their productivity when far removed from the worker physically obviously presents challenges.
“There are a lot of moving parts when working virtually. And it is more than just separating yourself from Facebook (News - Alert) during work hours. Especially for those people who are working virtually for the first time, it is important to have follow-up conversations on the phone or consistent daily check-ins,” Marse said. “Unlike a typical office where you can see over a cubicle wall, a virtual worker could be pulling their hair out for hours without saying a peep. Communication is important enough in a typical office; it is life or death in the virtual world.”
She suggests giving virtual office workers specific goals for each day, such as producing a certain number of articles or words per day for a writer. She also recommends encouraging “over-communication” – to ensure the virtual office worker is in contact at least once every 24 hours.
Weaknesses and Strengths
Let’s face it: Virtual office workers often feel isolated or detached from the organization for which they work. But by utilizing the “family” method of management, remote workers will feel valued, recognized and given a sense of ownership over their role. Marse recommends that managers share common interests of other team members or invite the team member to your off hours events.
“Corporate America has tons of rules against hanging out after hours; you probably don’t. Enjoy that,” she said.
Today, businesses looking to appear larger and more professional are increasingly deploying virtual office services to get the job done. Or larger companies are giving certain workers the option of working from home – it costs less and allows for greater flexibility.
As Marse summarizes, “Working virtually is the new way to do things. It’s cheaper, it’s faster, and it is more flexible than anything else out there. BUT, it isn’t an automatic transition for the company or its employees. You have to make certain allowances and create some unique buffers in order to get work done.”
To find out more about Joel Maloff (News - Alert) and Phone.com, visit the company at ITEXPO. To be held Oct. 2-5 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. Maloff is speaking during “Selling VoIP and Unified Communications via Channel Partners”. For more information on ITEXPO, click here.
Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
Phone.com Transforms Small Businesses Using VoIP and the Cloud : TMC podcast with Joel Maloff, vice president of Channel Development at Phone.com, about how to transform SMBs using VoIP and the cloud.
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