Today we continue this discussion shedding lights on the tools and implementation of virtual workplaces.
In essence, there are four key steps required to implement a virtual workplace, as follows:
1. Determine specific organization needs and assess alternatives
A research should be carried out to weigh the consequences of the implementation of the virtual workplace. There are some situations of which implementing a virtual workplace is not the best answer to increase productivity or cut costs.
In addition the companyâ€™s jobs should be considered and determined if they can be done virtually or not. For example, a developer can easily work in a virtual workplace, but can a secretary do that?
2. Evaluate core technologies best suited to enabling employees to remain productive.
First the physical space should be selected and is recommended to be a comfortable location of which the employee can work from. For example some companies may require the employee to only work from home with a VPN connection for security reasons.
Second the essential tools should be specified. Such tools include a computer with specific hardware capabilities, a high speed Internet connection, and the required software to telecommute such as VPN tools sharing screen software, all of which would form the command center for a job.
While the command center constitutes a major components of a virtual workplace, there are other items that are required for an efficient workplace, including a phone line used for emergency cases and for conference calls. In addition a webcam and a microphone is required for interaction. Chatrooms and instant messengers should be implemented for a better communication.
There are other beneficial tools that should be utilized including CMS or content management system which is a database for organizing documents and other files. CMSes also track information on the reads and writes done on the file. Drupal and Joomla are some of the most known CMSs.
Another essential tool would be a wiki, which is key for documentation of processes and projects, can be accessible at any time can and provide the employee with all the information he/she needs.
Collaborative platforms also form a major component of the workplace including messengers such as Yahoo and Skype which are the most secure among others. Many organizations utilize Google applications and Microsoft SharePoint for such a purpose. Others also utilize a ticketing system to track customerâ€™s requests and inquiries.
For training purposes a learning management system or a virtual classroom should be created to allow employees to train and attend training sessions, record them, and access them at any time they want.
As a summary, one good strategy entrepreneurs can use is to look out for what other experts have achieved concerning this matter and how they have adopted remote working, and what are the tips and advises offered on the best way to succeed in such environment.
3. Set policies for management of the virtual workforce
The virtual workplace, like any other work environment, requires guidelines and oversight to prevent abuses and protect both the company and the Employee. Making this calls for a set of terms and conditions to be outlined between employees and their managers.
Policies should cover the following topics:
- Eligibility to participate
- Home office setup and security, including equipment, Internet access and phone service
- Work schedule, including how many days/week will be spent working remotely
- Managerial oversight and evaluation
4. Measuring effectiveness
Measuring effectiveness is one key aspect in having a virtual workplace, without it the company would simply fail. Below are items that need to be measured periodically including:
- Current costs of overhead, equipment, power and travel vs. subsequent savings
- Productivity (such as number of customer sales calls per month) before and after
- Recruitment and retention statistics before and after
- Employee satisfaction and morale as measured by initial and follow-up surveys
- Growth rate in revenue, sales, markets and geographies
We hope this was insightful to you, let us know your thoughts!