The idea of working in a relatively remote office location is hardly a new phenomenon. As early as the 1970s, significant numbers of employees worked in satellite offices – removed from a company’s headquarters or home office. Since that time, a growing number of workers make up virtual teams – due in large measure to the growth in personal computers, Internet technology, and increasing global initiatives that define the business environment.
Today, it's quite normal for a work team to be spread across several different geographies. The summary statistics below (represented in this infographic we recently published) paint quite a remarkable picture when it comes to the world of virtual work.
Just take a look at some of these numbers:
- From 1980 to 2009, there has been an 86% increase in the percent of people working from home.
- 47% of the U.S. workforce does not work in the same office building as their manager.
- Between 20 and 30 million people work from home at least one day a week.
- By 2010, 45% of telecommuting workers were doing so almost every day.
The statistics also point to the need for a new approach to virtual leadership. While a convincing majority of survey participants recognize that an ability to manage virtual teams will be a key competency to possess in the future, few participants think their own managers have mastered the ability to lead virtually. This is not surprising when you consider that 79% of managers have not been trained in effective virtual leadership.
So what’s a leader to do? How can they overcome the challenges leading virtually presents?
In my upcoming posts, I’ll examine the realities that define leadership in a virtual world of work, and what leaders can do to effectively manage virtual teams.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida