Ready, set…… wait…….. Over the last six months, we have had more customers move in the direction of a remote work force, either in having employees move to another state while remaining employed or by adding staff on the other side of the country. In each case, the tools needed were in place and the team members have a proven track record of delivering desired results on time. This left one final piece – how to track and measure success. What really makes it work?
A good plan to maximize success of the virtual program is to have a meeting with the selected employee(s) or partner(s). At this meeting the goal is to create what is to be measured and incudes the acceptable level of performance. In addition, we recommend rewards for exceeding the measures and determining consequences if deadlines slip or quality is not maintained.
Historically, for our organization, we have conducted time studies of the functions performed and developed the current level of acceptable performance before setting the criteria for a virtual team. This allowed us to know what should be able to be accomplished by each individual. When we measured the actual work by the virtual teams, they exceeded production by 1.5 to 2.0 times their peers at the office. As a bonus, the virtual team took pride in being able to outperform their office peers and continued their efforts, recognizing it was a privilege to be a part of the program.
What was interesting is that in each virtual team we set up, the members themselves were excited to participate in the program, while their manager had a more difficult time in not being able to “see” the team member. TRUST by the manager that the team would be working and deliver the needed results were key. Eventually, they found it easier to manage by task, deliverable or numbers of items (i.e. phone calls made; lines of code written, pages of documentation created, etc.), which could be tracked accurately. The tools the virtual team used allowed the manager to “see” the productivity clearly, knowing when the worker was online, at task and the progress of the work – deliverables were met each and every time.
A healthy virtual team will have a high level of trust in both directions. There will be open communication and clear, agreed upon goals, with both sides aligned to the desired outcomes. Keeping your remote team engaged in the work and having a say in the project plan or end results, brings their commitment to the organization.
All-in-all, virtual teams will produce and their manager will gain new skills. One last note, be sure to take time to recognize the accomplishments of the manager and virtual team. Not only will it keeping them producing, it will influence those at the office too!
Linda Amaro is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers topics, tips and tricks surrounding The Virtual Office and using Microsoft SharePoint to improve collaboration. Linda Amaro, has been in the Information Technology (IT) industry for over 30 years and has risen to the position of CIO in the corporate arena managing multiple departments with over 150 staff members and projects for tier one customers ranging from $2.5 million to $20 million. In 2010, she started Klarinet Solutions, a SharePoint consulting firm that provides SharePoint Design, Site Branding, Workflow Automation, On-Line Forms Development, Document Management, Custom Development and Business Intelligence.