It is becoming more and more common for organisations to collaborate with remote virtual teams. With recent technology advancements such as web conferencing, Skype, online project management and instant messaging, employees nowadays are able to do their work outside of the office.
What is a virtual team?
A virtual team consists of colleagues working remotely from different locations such as home or co-working offices. They all work on the same team and toward the same objectives.
Currently, 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) work from home at least half the time. Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping their work arrangements to accommodate the fact that employees are already mobile. Studies show that they are away from the desk 50-60% of the time.
Most start-ups and many small companies operate initially as virtual teams. They take advantage of the option to hire experienced professionals at the lowest possible investment.
If your company is growing, often it isn't profitable, making virtual teams a good alternative. This allows you to bypass some of the challenges of growth.
While challenges do exist with remote workers, there are also significant benefits to consider:
You can hire remote workers at a substantially reduced price, especially if you are sourcing internationally. With virtual workers, you only pay for the level of support, and the length of service you require.
Typically there are no overhead costs like computers, office and parking spaces, benefits, utilities etc. According to a study from Sanford University, a company can save about $2,000 per year, per employee who works from home. Even if you provide funds for the employee to set up a home office, costs remain significantly lower than renting an office space.
2) Access to the highest calibre of employees worldwide
A virtual team gives you an opportunity to tap into a wider talent pool. Instead of limiting your recruitment opportunities to those who can make the daily commute or those who are willing to relocate, you can focus on finding the best-qualified candidates without worrying about geographic limitations. Working with an experienced and skilled remote team can mean getting more done in less time.
Team members located in different countries increase the diversity of your team. A multicultural team gives you multiple points-of-view, enabling you to see the problems you are tackling holistically.
4) Increased productivity
There is a perception that remote workers are less productive since they aren't physically present in the office. Contrary to that, studies show that they tend to get more done.
Employees are more likely to work over 40 hours a week if they're working from home as they are being evaluated based on the results of their work, not the time spent in the office. They also take fewer sick days. Team members working together across various time zones are more likely to achieve success if they're able to collaborate from home.
5) Higher retention rates
One of the major upsides of virtual teams for employers is higher retention rates. Working from home offers the flexibility needed for a better work-life balance. Therefore, fewer employees who work remotely quit. They also are more likely to eat healthier and have lower stress levels.
Virtual teams are on the rise. Due to technological advancements, it's possible for workers to work from home and for their managers to ensure that work is done on time and to the highest standard.
Benefits that go beyond cost savings, like boosted productivity and employee satisfaction, mean that remote team collaboration is not only good for business but good for employees too.