How to Create The Most Productive Virtual Offices
As the costs of offices are rising in many areas around the world, businesses are starting to look into more alternative ways of working. This often includes setting up virtual offices, with employees working from multiple venues, whether that be their own home, a coffeehouse, or a coworking space. Virtual offices can be a great way to save on the costs associated with running a business, but there are some considerations to take into account when it comes to how to make virtual offices operate successfully:
Encourage Online Banter
There’s a common belief that the less socialising that happens in an office, the better. Especially when it comes to productivity. However, there are a number of experts who claim that a bit of friendly banter here and there can actually boost efficiency in the workplace. Dr. Alex Pentland of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claims that ‘watercooler chats’ can help to level out the work/life balance, and significantly affect attitudes towards the job at hand. Of course, in virtual offices, face-to-face communications is limited, so try to encourage employees to bond in other ways, either through instant messaging, voIP, or by introducing a ‘buddy’ system to connect workers living in the same region.
While many people are able to work individually and using their own initiative, others tend to perform better when they know they’ve got support if and when they need it. Virtual offices can often make it seem like an employee is ‘on their own’, so it’s important to ensure that managers and others working within a leadership role are easily accessible. Make sure to schedule in regular meetings, giving employees a chance to ask any questions they may have, and consider setting up a shared calendar so that any member of the team- wherever they are – can quickly and easily see when their manager is available. Of course, managers can’t always be around, so consider delegating responsibility at times.
Keep it Fair
Virtual offices are ideal for businesses that recruit employees from all across the world. While it’s a great way to expand your company internationally without the associated costs, it’s important to consider the challenges that operating a global workforce can bring. One of the biggest challenges is, of course, getting everyone together at once. If you need to arrange meetings between employees working in different time zones, try to keep it fair. If one employee needs to get up early or work late to accommodate another employee, switch it up next time to allow the other to work more ‘normal’ hours. Issues will always arise, but try to keep things as fair as possible, and accommodate workers’ requests.