The Virtual Workplace – Career development in the virtual world
The virtual workplace, in which employees operate remotely, is a reality for many leaders today. This is especially true for companies that have a national and international presence – employees are not only in another state but another country. This results in changes to how we work and new ways to communicate via online or mobile channels are constantly emerging.
Being a virtual manager presents many opportunities as well as challenges. The opportunities revolve around flexibility of work and fast communication across geographically separate offices providing opportunities to share ideas. The challenges mostly stem from the physical separation, with managers wondering “How can I manage someone if I can’t see them?” In this case the focus needs to shift from managing time (activity-based) to managing results (outcomes-based). Effective communication skills, the ability to delegate effectively, and implementing follow up to ensure that work is completed are some of the skills that are required by a virtual manager.
Technology has had a positive impact on virtual teams, as they are now able to interact and collaborate in real-time. There are a variety of tools available including virtual classrooms and meeting rooms, webinars, text and voice chat, document sharing, blogs, forums, the list goes on.