If you would like to receive blog updates, subscribe via e-mail or alternatively follow us on twitter or facebook.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

How to Manage a Virtual Workforce

The workplace, as we know it, is changing rapidly. Geographic expansion into emerging markets in places like China and Brazil plus the need for specialised professional skills, especially in IT, have forced many companies to employ virtual staff worldwide.

Indeed, when you consider the expense of renting offices or the time and cost involved in commuting to work, remote working could soon become the norm even for smaller local firms. Virtual teams of telecommuters, outsourcers and contractors can work from anywhere, anytime without regard to geographic boundaries or time zones.

However, managing virtual teams is easier said than done.  Employee scheduling when your workforce is spread across multiple locations and in many different roles can present managers with huge challenges. The problem is compounded if they are dealing with different languages as well.

Financial management and analysis is another area requiring careful consideration.  Accurate financial modelling of projects and associated budgets is vital if remote working teams are to be deployed cost effectively. Finance departments also need to keep an eye on and manage individual, shift and position remuneration rates of remote workers to maintain tight control on costs.

Effective communication is vital when managing a remote workforce and managers should not hesitate to exploit advances in collaboration technology.  This includes scheduling software, shared directories, email, instant messaging, audio and video conferencing, etc.

Workforce management software has been developed for virtual workforces to enable communication via automated notifications or specific correspondence to individuals and groups. These surprisingly low-cost solutions ensure that remote teams are productive and eective.

Employing a self-service User Portal will allow staff to check their own shifts from a computer, smartphone or tablet 24/7. They can also advise supervisors of their availability, accept assignments and update their own personal work rota.

The eective use of employee scheduling software is key to successful management of remote working staff. It enables organisations to maximise the efficiency of staff allocation by deploying workers according to their individual skills and competencies.

Some employee scheduling programmes enable remote check-in/out via smartphone, PC or even SMS. This ensures that remote workers are in the right place at the right time, reduces time and money spent on back office administration and enhances customer service levels.

Large operations need to deploy specially-designed software that allows management of multiple projects, events, shifts and locations in a single system.  This type of workforce management software often provides Scheduling Conflict Verification to eliminate error and highlight potential problems with resourcing. Maximum productivity can be achieved by making such information available 24/7 to authorised managers who have the assigned access levels.

No comments: