Much has been made, recently, of the debate over whether working from home is an employee right to be encouraged across the board, or an employee privilege to be discouraged in some circumstances.
The reality of today’s workplace means that companies within the same industry and even executives in the same company can differ greatly in their approaches to whether working from home would be a good option for their company. Even while the general trend has been toward embracing the work-life balance, in more recent times, CEO’s have come under fire for their decisions that may curb employee freedoms in the arena of virtual work.
Wherever you stand on the working from home issue, the reality is that now leaders are more likely than ever to lead teams that are dispersed across geographies. Along with a focus on the core competencies of successful leadership today (we believe these competencies can be classified into six major categories or “zones”) having an awareness of changing technology capabilities and workforce trends can help leaders conquer the world of virtual work.
With our recent research and infographic about virtual work, AchieveGlobal set out to build an understanding of who makes up the virtual workforce, how much time they spend away from the office, and what this means to leaders of virtual teams.
Here are just a few key facts from our infographic:
- The number of people working at home grew 86.6% from 1980 to 2009
- 47% of the U.S. workforce does not work in the same office building as their manager
- 57% of workers say that trust and communication are The Top Challenges for managers of virtual teams
- 79% of leaders have not been trained for effective virtual leadership
What do all these numbers mean? In short, the virtual work trend continues to increase; yet most managers are ill equipped to lead teams of employees working virtually. If you think this seems like a recipe for failure, you’re absolutely right.
So what should a leader do in order to improve success at leading virtual teams? Should you bulk up on all the technological savvy that you can find? Well some of that may help, but in a very fundamental way, success in virtual leadership is only partly about understanding and mastering the virtual world. It’s equally important to focus on the six zones of leadership I referred to earlier and to provide the structure and engagement that has a positive effect on remote teams. Building group cohesion and individual commitment helps team members work productively from a distance and achieve business goals. It can also diffuse mistrust of people we cannot see and, ultimately, answer the leader’s question…
‘How do I know they’re working?’
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida