Virtual teams and their benefits to your organization

Virtual teams and their benefits to your organization

Whether intuitively or based on a study, most people today understand that virtual work is here to stay. Though it was not created or invented or conceptualized during this period, the Covid-19 pandemic that struck the world in the first quarter of 2020 certainly played a role in increasing its value as well as an inevitability.

The shoe seems to be on the other foot now. If your company is not actively letting people operate virtually, are you missing a trick or two?

The State of America workplace reports produced by Gallup identified 39 to 43 percent of employees as having worked remotely between the years 2012 and 2016. Though that is a high number, employees working virtually on a regular basis, day after day, as opposed to occasionally doing so, seems to have become solidified during the pandemic. When lockdown and shelter-in-place restrictions were enforced, for many it was physically impossible to travel to and collect in large numbers at a workplace to carry out their duties. Everyone who could work virtually was required to do so. It is believed that up to 80 percent of the corporate workforce around the globe adopted virtual work as fast as they could during the early stages of the health crisis.

oWorkers has attained a leadership position in the BPO industry and is identified as one of the top three providers globally in its chosen sphere of work, which is data-based BPO services. The achievement, within 8 years of starting operations, is a testament to its capability as well as potential.

 

How is virtual work different?

Before getting deeper into the subject, let us ensure that we are on the same page with regard to what constitutes virtual work, and virtual employees, and how, if at all, it is different from the more traditional, workplace-based work.

As the name suggests, not being in the same physical space seems to be the major distinguishing feature of virtual work and virtual workers.

Everything else is almost the same. They continue to carry the same responsibilities and KRAs. They use the same tools for tracking, be it attendance or progress on a project. Companies also make an effort at ensuring that working conditions, including the hours of work, continue to stay as close to the physical environment as possible. After all, it helps to have most people operating in a time window when they can access each other. It also creates some predictability regarding availability rather than having to check availability each time someone wants a meeting.

Onsite employees tend to experience micromanagement on the part of supervisors while virtual employees tend to have greater leeway in their day-to-day work. This could be considered as another difference.

oWorkers demonstrated leadership during the pandemic and equipped its employees to work from home in order that the business of clients could stay afloat and they could be reached by their customers across the world.

 

What made it work?

It was, perhaps, the right thing at the right time. It could even take some credit for stemming the spread of the virus.

And it worked because its time had come. Communications technology had advanced to a point where it was possible to stay connected over ever-expanding and strengthening networks. Even video, which has historically been seen as a data-guzzling extravagance, could now be streamed effortlessly without impacting anything else.

The increasing stability of cloud servers allowed companies to move away from physically located data servers, removing the distinction between office-based superior access and degraded access from elsewhere. With cloud servers, everyone is on an equal footing.

A wide variety of digital tools streamlined workflows, automation, communication, and other requirements of companies, and allowed virtual employees to contribute as effectively as physically co-located ones.

oWorkers has supported collaboration between companies and industries. It has forged deep bonds with many technology companies. This is the reason it has been able to access the latest technologies even as it equipped its workforce to operate from anywhere.

 

Advantages of virtual work

Companies are competitive by nature. They fight tooth and nail for every advantage they can get. For virtual work to have sustained, and thrived in the last few years, it must be delivering benefits to the companies deploying it as a strategy.

What are these benefits?

Access to the best employees

As physical proximity is no longer a consideration, the company can hire the best people for a role from anywhere in the world. It opens up a world of options, on both sides. While organizations can look for the best people anywhere in the world, the same best people can look for the most suitable employer anywhere in the world. This could also create a rub-off effect on organizations wanting to create a world-class working environment as well as transparency in their operations in a bid to attract the best talent.

While it may be easier said than done, with cultural differences, time zones being different, and languages, it certainly creates many more options than hitherto available.

oWorkers has prided itself on its ability to access deep pools of talent right at its doorstep. Their reputation as an employer draws job seekers and gives them a choice of the best talent, without having to advertise on attracting them. They are hopeful that this reputation, currently operational in their delivery geographies, will become more widespread as virtual work increases.

Higher productivity

Water coolers in offices have been infamous in offices for people to congregate and indulging in small talk, often about the company as well as superiors, often to the detriment of productivity.

With virtual work, no such opportunity exists. There is no water cooler where people can congregate. And there are no people either in the same large office.

The result?

Talking ill about the company and about their bosses reduces. Even more importantly, such wastage of time is eliminated. The focus, instead, is purely on work.

Some analysts rue the loss of this opportunity for employees to vent their feelings in a closed environment where other people also belong to the same company. Often, this acts as a cleanser for negative feelings that welled up inside. Companies may need to think of ways to control this possible negative fallout but, for now, productivity is on the upswing.

oWorkers delivers an accuracy rate of over 99% to clients. When it is considered that this is across a variety of engagements, to clients based in different continents, measured on several different scales, it is an astounding achievement.

Work-life balance

Work-life balance has received a lot of lip service in a lot of large corporations over many years. The intent may have been good, but there has been skepticism about how much was actually achieved when people were mostly working from defined workplaces and there was pressure to outdo the person in the next cubby and impress the boss.

While those desires may not have changed, the control has been placed in the hands of the employee, with virtual work. The employee is able to spend more time with loved ones and contribute more meaningfully to household chores than what may have been possible earlier, creating a more harmonious environment at home.

Many organizations are reporting a reduction in attrition rates in virtual employees.

oWorkers gets great feedback on external platforms like Glassdoor both from present and past employees. This, they believe, is the result of a policy of working with employed staff, instead of freelancers and contractors which many of their peers prefer. There is greater engagement from the employee side and greater investment from the company’s side.

Saving time

All of a sudden, your commute time is nil. Imagine that!

The commute time to and from work was seen as a dead time, where very little constructive use was possible. With urban sprawls getting more and more crowded and junior employees being pushed to the fringes, the commute time was increasing, leaving people very little energy and motivation to do anything else.

This time is a pure saving for employees and could be used in myriad different ways, each in his/her own way depending on likes and dislikes and choices and preferences. Even the time spent on getting dressed appropriately for the workplace is now reduced.

The leadership team of oWorkers, which has several decades of hands-on industry experience, leads from the front and is involved in initiatives that lead to improvements that can yield benefits to clients.

Cost saving

While on the one hand employees save money because of the reduced commute and more food at home, companies save a packet by freeing up real estate no longer required. Real estate reduction has a cascading effect on other costs like utilities, maintenance, and equipment.

Some part of the saving could be offset by the need to invest in better communications and technology tools, as well as equipping home offices of employees to allow for unhindered operations, but the savings usually far outweigh the costs.

Clients working with oWorkers often cite savings of close to 80%, using their pre-outsourcing costs as the baseline. The oWorkers practice of offering a choice between pricing models to clients is recognized as unique and widely appreciated.

Improved turnaround time

With virtual work, a company could take advantage of the different time zones in different parts of the world. Something like a ‘follow the Sun’ approach.

Imagine that as you close your business for the day, some of your virtual staff somewhere else in the world are just beginning their working day. If you hand off the tasks remaining unfinished, to them, they will be working on them while your business sleeps and bring them forward to a point your primate business can once again take over at a much more advanced stage. It enables your company to operate on a 24×7 schedule without burning the midnight oil. All employees work during their daytime hours, or other hours they consider standard but still deliver the benefits of a round-the-clock operation.

oWorkers has equipped each of its delivery centers to operate on a 24×7 schedule, all 365 days a year. This gives their clients the ability to improve turnaround time for their customers, over and above the benefit already available through operating in multiple time zones with the support of oWorkers.

Enhanced ability to handle variations

With a virtual workforce, a business moves from its dependence on resources and facilities in a confined space to a much more widely distribute geography. It can no longer be held ransom to events that could impact a limited geographical area, such as torrential rain, political upheaval, and many others. It has multiple engines firing for them.

It gets the flexibility to pull multiple strings together in a bid to address requirements and challenges. For example, if resources are needed at short notice, it is no longer confined to a limited talent pool in the vicinity of its operations. It can now source from anywhere in the world. It does not even need to worry about procuring the workstation space and devices in time for the new employees. They may well come with their own.

oWorkers offers the flexibility of hiring at short notice, with a capacity that can deliver almost a hundred additional resources within 48 hours.

Transparency

Tools not only aid the process of communication and interaction, they also create transparency and visibility.

For instance, as most communication happens on messaging applications, it is perforce recorded, as opposed to verbal conversations that do not leave a trail. This makes for stronger documentation as well as backup records in case there is a need to refer in the future. This reduces information asymmetry and keeps everyone equally well-informed.

With this increased reliance on technology and tools, it is no surprise that oWorkers has taken steps to make its network and facilities secure so that internal information and client data are not compromised. It is ISO certified (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) and GDPR compliant.

 

Concluding remarks

This is not to say that virtual work does not have limitations. It does. However, it is up to smart organizations to identify the challenges to their deployment of virtual work as a strategy and deal with them effectively.

oWorkers is actively involved in supporting clients across industry segments, as well as creating employment opportunities for people in less privileged communities, both physical as well as virtual. oWorkers has created a multilingual team and can offer support to clients in over 20 languages.

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