The Challenges of a Virtual Workplace
A virtual workplace may have many benefits, but it is not without its challenges. The main areas of challenge are personnel challenges and technological challenges.
In a virtual workplace, employees are working in a relatively isolated situation in their own homes, as well as being in diverse geographies and perhaps never meeting in person. Managing a virtual workplace requires extra effort to be put in towards developing relationships, trust and good patterns of communication.
Non-local teams may be made up of people from quite different cultural backgrounds. Things like communications style, etiquette, time management and cultural references may differ widely, and it is important to be aware of this as manager of a team. Creating inclusive ways of working that are clear and acceptable to people from different cultures is key.
It can be difficult to keep a close eye on employee productivity when managing a virtual workforce. Home can be full of distractions, and you will not be around to help keep your employees focused and to make sure that they are working the hours they say they are. There are time tracking solutions available for companies to log the time that employees are online and active. It is a fine balance to maintain an atmosphere of trust and autonomy, while also safeguarding productivity.
A virtual workplace relies on technology to operate. If your employees have troubles using software or hardware, or any malfunctions occur, it can seriously disrupt their productivity. Likewise, internet connection is essential to the smooth operation of a virtual workplace. If the network goes down, then that flow of easy collaboration comes to a halt.
Security can be another key challenge of operating a virtual workplace. As data and assets are decentralized across many devices in many locations, and sensitive information is passed back and forth through a range of communication channels, it is important to have guidelines and protocols in place to protect sensitive information from going astray.
Client confidentiality can also be compromised if employees are conducting work calls in places outside of the office, where they might be overheard and accidentally cause a breach of non-disclosure agreements.