Wouldn’t it be great to hire a virtual staff?
I thought so too, and that’s why I decided to build a virtual team.
Developing a staff of virtual employees is a great way to improve staffing, gain access to hard-to-find skill sets and enable you to work from anywhere in the world. In fact, many businesses (large and small) are now seriously considering (and implementing) remote staff to solve their problems.
I lead my company from a tropical paradise in Costa Rica. I’ve found that allowing employees to get their work done from another location can solve some immediate issues — listening to others’ gum-chewing or smelling neighbors’ “interesting” lunch concoctions — but it can also solve some long-term personnel problems as well.
A study of 10,000 workers conducted by Kenexa Research Institute showed that employees who telecommuted reported higher job satisfaction rates. These employees also indicated they were less interested in leaving their employers, and felt their companies’ communication was more open than their desk-bound colleagues did.
So, if you’re considering letting your team take their work out of the office, here are a few pointers to make your staff more comfortable — and productive — from afar:
1. Get the right people in the right roles.
Regardless of where your company conducts business, your employees are the most important facet of your operation. Hiring the right people is crucial, particularly when you will be physically separated from them.
2. Hire employees you can trust.
When looking for people who will perform at a high level remotely, search for reliability. Employers need to be able to entrust their remote employees with work tasks, and remote employees also need to build trust in order to lessen the psychological gap between themselves and their supervisors. This results in less self-consciousness and higher success rates for remote employees, and a better bottom line for their companies.
3. Assess the “company culture” fit.
It’s also vital to look for people who are compatible with the company culture. People who have a strong passion for the business at hand, and who are flexible, open, and willing to suggest upgrades to processes, are the most valuable to have on your remote team.
4. Look for strong communicators.
A person with strong communication skills is an asset to a remote work group. Electronic communication can occasionally be interpreted negatively, so it’s essential that your crew is clear, friendly, and interested in forming bonds with their co-workers.
These factors will allow the group to overcome misunderstandings quickly — and minimize the chances of misunderstandings in the first place. Just as importantly, a Cornell University review showed that good communication skills reduced the sense of isolation felt by remote workers.