If the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it has definitely shown us that remote work and virtual teams are still a productive way to work. In some cases, they can actually be more productive than co-located and face-to-face teams. Now that things are resolving, Employers have opted to allow some or all employees to work from home rather than go back to the typical office situation. Why? Because they recognize that remote work is good – possibly better – and that virtual teams work. Cost is down, profitability is up, and security- while definitely an issue- isn’t much or any riskier than it is with co-located teams and cubicle work. Remote work may not be for everyone, but practice may make perfect.
Get the best talent
First off, you can get the best talent for your projects and teams – sometimes as fast as tomorrow. You are paying people to come work for you immediately, not after an expensive move that you might likely have to pay for. That means you can get the best talent right away and perhaps for a cheaper price than you would otherwise be able to negotiate. You may even be able to pick up resources for short term work faster without the long term commitment that is expected from an onsite resources.
Everyone works where and when they can be most productive
We are all professionals, right? Trust your best employees to be able to give their best even when you aren’t there looking over their shoulder or catching them for a status update on the elevator. Everyone is just a call or a text or an email away and a manager or customer or team member can get an update or a decision made or some needed info almost in real time. All of that project team talent – including you as the project manager – can work where and when you are most productive. If you’re a night person, work at midnight- as long as you can be available for regular day time meetings. I’ve been doing this with project clients around the world for many years.
Co-location is a time-waster
Being co-located is a time-waster. As a manager of a co-located team, I often found my direct report resources just hanging out in my office. If they came in to get or give a brief update, it may be 30 minutes longer before they would leave. That doesn’t work for me; I like a more efficient day time work experience. No one hangs on a call or Zoom meeting an extra 30 minutes just to avoid going back to whatever they were doing before the meeting. Those water cooler updates of the olden days are past their effectiveness and were always potential time wasters.
It's a money thing
Virtual teams make sense from an economical perspective as well. Without the need to pay for more office space and possibly even higher salaries our projects can be priced more competitively to give our companies and organizations a competitive advantage at winning new contracts and projects. I’m happy to work for a bit less money remotely (don’t tell anyone that), and I’ve found that most of my colleagues say the same thing. Quality of life goes up without the one hour or two hour round trip commutes, and I can get other necessary things out of the way during the day – personal things – without affecting my overall availability or productiveness.
Summary / call for input
It’s no secret that I’ve been a fan of remote and virtual teams for a long time. I’ve been working remotely and effectively for more than a dozen years – even managing projects as large as $10 million in the process. In most cases, project customers are not even aware or even care where you and your team are as long as you are getting the work done for them successfully.
Readers – what’s your take? Do you prefer to work remotely, and are you as effective managing teams and resources and projects remotely? What issues have you encountered and how have you dealt with them? Please share your experiences.