De-location (that is moving from a physical to a virtual workplace) is the new mantra for many digital and non-digital companies, like Zapier and Mozilla. But when and why is de-locating the right choice?
According to the Blog Flexjobs, telecommuting grew of nearly 80% between 2005 and 2012. The magazine Forbes wrote in 2014 that the percentage of remote workers ranged between 30%-45% in most US companies. In the Zinc survey of 2017 upon customers, we read that mobile workers are expected to grow up to nearly three-quarters of the US workforce in 2020.
Remote work is then definitely all the rage today, despite the contrasting opinions of some managers like Yahoo CEO Melissa Mayer who decided to physically gather Yahoo employees again a couple of year ago. This is not surprising at all, if we consider the advantages of the digital workplace both for employers and employees. These range from time and money savings (employees do not need to travel or commute anymore, firms can save on costs like offices, buildings, Office equipment) to the opportunity for companies to hire the most talented candidates without geographical barriers.
However, moving to the Virtual Office is not always a good choice for an organization. Some tasks, like signing a document or team projecting are almost impossible in a digital environment, and most old-economy industries (for example, automotive) still requires a physical location where to manufacture their products. Therefore, it is important to understand when and why to take the jump.
First, consider the kind of activity you wish to de-locate. De-location works great for services, IT, and in general immaterial activities. Marketing, accounting, human resources, some general management tasks, staff training are among the common business functions that can be easily given to remote workers or managed remotely.
Second, are you and your staff really ready for the virtual office? Remote work is not exactly Valentines and roses. The main problems are connected with the need of keeping consistent communication and building trust among the members of your remote team.
In other words, working remotely is more challenging than working in the traditional physical office. Exchanging text messages through messaging apps are not enough; it is also important to periodically speak to each other through face-to-face video calls. As a rule of thumb, building a company culture and motivating people in a Virtual workplace is harder than in a physical office.
Third, do you have the right technology? A digital workplace necessarily relies upon a sophisticated technology that supports all the multiple daily tasks of remote workers, from teleconferences to document sharing and virtual meeting recording.
Today there are many solutions that offer a total support to the virtual office, from Facebook to R-HUB`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com), an inexpensive suite of servers that can be used by remote workers to perform almost any task, from real time collaboration to remote IT support. Therefore, it is important to choose the right one.
In conclusion, if an organization wishes to move to the virtual office, it is basilar to make a plan that includes the detection of the business functions that is opportune to de-locate, the training and preparation of the staff, the careful choice of the right technological solution for the needs of the organization, and, last but not least, an accurate budget provision of the costs, profits, pros and cons of the whole operation.
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