Apr 11

Going Virtual – Yes or No?

One of the great advantages of digitalization is that you can now work from literally anywhere – as long as you have internet! This opens the way for an entirely new generation of workers, such as so-called “digital nomads”, and also offers employers new possibilities for accessing remote talent pools or formerly unthinkable extents of flexibility for their employees. But is it the right way to go for your company? Let me try to illustrate some of the pros and cons, and most importantly, the opportunities for LSPs in going virtual!

YES!

Saving on overheads. Allowing for home offices enables you to save on rent, either entirely, by hiring employees who’ll always work from home, or partially, by rotating in-office workspaces which allows for employees to have the best of both worlds – the flexibility and convenience of the home office as well as the social glue of working next to a colleague.

Hire global talent. Say you’re based in a location with a rather small talent pool for LSPs, what do you do if you want to grow? You could raise your salaries to incentivise potential employees to move to your location. But can you afford that? By going virtual, you can source the best talent from all over the world! If your company is only just starting out or is having trouble with the cash flow, you can even consider hiring freelancers like project managers from countries with a lower general salary.

Flexibility. Working with globally distributed linguists, project managers or even sales reps on a freelance basis means that you don’t have to worry about filling their time in the office with work. By paying them on an hourly basis, for example, your company will be better equipped to deal with those slow weeks almost every company has every once in a while. On the other hand, freelancers can also work more hours during very busy times, without you having to worry about restrictive labour law regulations.

Happier employees. Being able to work from home is a big bonus for many. Just thinking about how much time people waste on commutes, the home office allows people to make much more of their days. Be it spending quality time with their family, getting a workout in, going for an extra walk with their dogs or simply chilling out with Netflix – they get more happy time. And happier employees are more productive, which means they make you more successful.

Well that almost sounds too good to be true, right? Like, why isn’t everybody doing this already if it’s such a great thing? Let me illustrate!

NO!

Trust. This is the single most important thing. Without it, your virtual team will inevitably fail, miserably! Working with virtual teams means you can’t just peak over someone’s shoulder (which you really shouldn’t do anyways). The thing is that if you don’t trust your virtual team members, you’ll resort to micro-management, and micro-management destroys everything. Your team members will feel that you’re checking up on them, they’ll feel watched, Big Brother style, and you’ll have to look for new employees very soon. If you do trust them, though, a beautiful and exciting journey lies ahead of you!

Sharing knowledge. It’s just so much easier to ask those quick questions to the person sitting right next to you, than to the one in the neighbouring office, or let alone to your colleague in her home office. And these little questions provide a lot of value for any company. In fact they’re the reason why Yahoo pulled everybody from their home offices back into the brick-and-mortar offices. The good news is that there are many ways to improve knowledge sharing in your team. The most cost-effective way – lead by example! Do what you want your team to do, and if you’re a good leader, they’ll follow suit.

If you want to find out about some other ways to improve your virtual team’s communication and collaboration, come attend my presentation “Leading Virtual Teams” at this year’s EUATC conference in Berlin!