The virtual workforce isn’t a trendy buzzword but a movement.
In the past few years, we’ve seen companies and even industries entirely transformed due to digitalization.
Kodak went under when Instagram, the new kid on the block, swept in with a more convenient way of viewing and sharing your most prized photos. Blockbuster tanked following the arrival of the online streaming platform Netflix, offering viewers an exciting new way to view all their favorite shows and movies.
Now it’s the workforce that is undergoing a similar digital transformation.
The trend towards remote work is undeniable, and the COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated the rate at which companies are forced to adopt the new way of working.
To keep up with the rapidly changing work models in your industry, you need a virtual workforce in 2021 and beyond.
Why? Here are just ten reasons you should consider making the transition sooner rather than later:
The Global Talent Pool
It’s no secret that top talent is hard to secure these days.
In fact, some industries such as tech and IT have been suffering from a shortage of talent for several years now.
In 2020, for example, 69% of US employers had a hard time filling open positions, particularly for those looking to fill tech-related roles, as these were among the top 10 most challenging jobs to fill.
What’s the secret to attracting top talent?
There are a couple of approaches you can adopt to get the best talent for your company, and both of them involve moving towards the virtual workforce.
The first approach is to incentivize workers to choose you over the competition by offering flexible remote or hybrid work schedules. Since talent these days is less likely to work a conventional 9-5 office role if they can just as easily work from home with another company on their own schedule.
The second approach is to tap into the global talent pool.
If you can open up your search to workers from different countries, and the freelance market, then you give yourself a better chance of finding the best fit for the role.
Expenses can eat into your bottom line, so what if we told you that you could eliminate a lot of your current running costs?
That office you’re renting, which counts as a significant overhead, might not be necessary.
When you have a virtual workforce, employees have their own offices - at home.
Then there’s everything that goes along with renting an office space, such as the electricity bill, all of the electronics in the office like the printer and computers, and so on.
There will, of course, be new expenses to consider, such as project management software and the like, but overall you stand to save some money with the transition to remote work.
To grow your business, you want as few obstacles in the way as possible.
As insignificant as they may seem, each extra expense or responsibility can make the process of expanding even more time-consuming than it needs to be.
When growing the workforce means buying each worker new furniture or improving the overall work environment with new electronics, it becomes an ordeal.
With a virtual workforce, expanding is as straightforward as hiring as many new workers as you need to and onboarding them with the software you use and their responsibilities in the role. Other than that, there’s nothing else to consider.
Communication can slow down the workday and in some cases, lower the output of your workforce.
Say something goes wrong in the middle of the night with your website and customers can’t make orders. If your entire workforce is based in one location, they won’t respond until the first worker clocks in the following morning.
Diversify by hiring workers from different cities, countries, and even continents. That way, you can work towards 24/7 operability so that the business is being run whether the majority of your employees are awake or not.
Customer support is a company’s biggest asset, as it’s the direct link between you and your customers. If there’s nobody on the other end of the line or a slow email response, then this could work against you and potentially even harm your reputation in the long run. This is easily solved with a remote team based in a different time zone.
Improved Productivity Among Workers
While it might seem like a risk to transition to a remote work model, in which your employees are free to work from the comfort of their own homes, you may just be surprised at what it does for their output levels.
The daily commute to work will be removed for a start, which frees up a chunk of time in the morning and should prevent late starts.
But the main reason that having a virtual workforce can lead to improved productivity is that most people find that they can settle into a good work rhythm at home where they’re free from common workplace distractions and free to work during the hours they feel work best for them.
Access to a Breadth of Skills
With access to a global talent pool comes access to a breadth of skills.
In the short term, with a virtual workforce, you can more easily plug your company’s skill or knowledge gaps by hiring top freelancers.
In the long term, you can assemble a workforce that consists of a rotating cast of freelancers and fixed employees, to get the best of both worlds.
Ask most employees these days what their number one priority is when looking for a job and we’re willing to wager that, apart from money, they would state the ability to set their own schedule as what they value most.
The remote work lifestyle is becoming a reality for more and more workers in recent times, so to ignore that would be naive.
To entice the top talent, and keep your current employees happy, offering flexible work schedules and remote work is one of the best cards you can play.
Minimal Time Wasting
You’d be amazed at how much time is wasted on a daily basis at most companies.
The few minutes spent scrolling through Facebook, the commute into the office, and even going to and from meetings. These activities may seem trivial, but the reality is that they are often minutes lost.
Even if the total of minutes squandered is minimal, did you know that it can take several minutes just to regain focus after a minor distraction?
In fact, it’s been shown that just about any distraction will interrupt a work pattern, which means every minute wasted leads to further minutes wasted.
If you have a virtual workforce, you’ll have fewer issues with time-wasting, and you can keep distractions at a minimum with software, which we’ll take a look at next.
Keeping track of projects and tasks from start to finish can be complicated.
This is especially true if you have several different teams in the workplace that need to communicate internally and with each other from time to time.
So how do you streamline project management and keep tabs on worker productivity?
With project management software that helps you create project pipelines and speed up communication, of which there are many options these days.
As for monitoring how employees spend time when they’re working from home, there are tools such as Workpuls which allow you to monitor their activities in real-time. The software takes regular screenshots to keep workers honest and should ensure that every minute spent is focused on a work-related task.
While these systems have an initial learning curve for new workers, once everyone is on board, they can dramatically improve the way your company communicates and works as a cohesive unit.
Higher Retention Rate
To boost your employee retention rate, you want a flexible and adaptable way of working.
That way, if something goes wrong or you need to expand the business, you can do so with minimal inconvenience caused. If employees have to travel or take maternity or paternity leave they can do so while still putting in a few hours here and there.
The flexible work conditions will also make it much harder for workers to make the decision to quit and jump ship. Even if they can find better pay elsewhere, if you show that you’re willing to accommodate the employee’s needs for flexibility then they’re more likely to be loyal.
Perhaps the biggest reason of all for adopting a virtual workforce isn’t any of those listed in this article. With the way things are heading, a failure to change things up and go digital could mean that your competition leaves you behind and snaps up all the best talent in your industry.
Don’t be the next Kodak or Blockbuster, move with the times to secure the future of your business and the satisfaction of your workers.