The world is fast spiralling towards virtual working. According to a Forbes article, by 2020, 40% of the US workforce will be independent contractors. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianrashid/2016/01/26/the-rise-of-the-freelancer-economy/#27d2b80e3bdf) Virtual working allows small and mid-sized organizations the employment flexibility and thereby cost-cutting. On the other hand, the virtual employees enjoy their freedom to be able to juggle between work life and personal committments.

Virtual working has seen major transition in the last decade. When the idea was conceptualised, teams found it difficult to work virtually owing to social, cultural and infrastructural reasons. For example, managers found it uncomfortable to adapt to working with employees who were not physically present. Since productivity has been associated with working out of a dedicated space, virtual working was considered as unaccountable work and quality results were definitely not an expectation. Another major hindrance was the lack of technological tools which slacked connectivity even more and made both the parties feel remote. Thanks to technological advancement, we've been able to resolve most of these problems and boost the efficiency of remote working. Now, the gig economy is spreading fast.

Companies like Dell who have 25% of their employees working part-time or from home are encouraging people to consider the option of working from home. Dell has not seen a loss of productivity whatsoever, in fact, they’re growing well.
Kate Lister, the president of Global Workplace Analytics acknowledged to CNN Money that whether they are located in the same building, a few yards away or time zones apart, employees remain connected even after they leave the workplace.

The future holds immense potential for virtual working as it is resource efficient.

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Image Source: https://leadingwithtrust.com/

Why does it not work for a few?

It is very important to understand the nature of virtual employment in the first place to make this story successful. Virtual Employment does give you access to global talent but there are many things to consider before you start. For instance, having a clear goal set on the hiring of a virtual employee.

The gig economy is fresh and both the employers and employees are at an exploratory stage. There is plent of room to set up personalised work culture. It requires some amount of homework into setting up a work process, accountability, support mechanisms and most importantly, a rapport with your remote employees.

What requires to make your virtual team successful is the ability to understand and analyse the performance of your virtual team to work on problem areas. To make this easier for you, we've crafted a guidebook on tools and ways to measure the productivity of your virtual team so that you can together grow your business.

How do I assess the performance of my virtual team?

Assessing the performance of your virtual team is not a periodic activity but an ongoing process. It's better to lay out a chart to measure productivity before starting off so that you can track it over time. Here are some ways to consider while laying out your plan:

· Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

This is the best way to track the qualitative performance of your employees and organizations put in a lot of strategy and analysis while defining the KPIs at the beginning of the year.
Key Performance indicators define the expected outcome of a work done and are a very powerful tool to track both the quantitative and qualitative effects of your employees. You can have both generic as well as skill specific indicators customised to your business.
A periodic review of the KPIs for each member of your virtual team will give you an overview and help you understand the progress rate individually as well as how it impacts the collective teamwork.

· Set Milestones

In order to stay on the same page, set milestones for your employees that they’re accountable for. While it’s a possibility that you may skip the milestone once in a while but if you regularly stumble upon such situation, it indicates low productivity.

Set interim milestones and keep reminding your team about it.Do not forget to congratulate them on their milestone achievement or help them with suggestions when they're not able to meet it.

Achieving milestones together also fosters team spirit and cohesiveness.

· Chart Individual Objectives

Each employee must have an individual objective plan that is customized to their abilities and achievable.

This is a great asset in virtual working because it helps you employee stay on track, understand their strong and weak areas and stay connected to what the organizations expect out of them.

Communicate individual objectives crisp and clear and take regular updates on the same or encourage a meeting periodically where it is discussed.

· Have Rules and Guidelines in place

When you lay out all the rules and guidelines for a process with extreme detail, like how long a process should take, how long each stage should last, who is responsible for a task etc. It helps you analyse your team’s performance well.

It surely does reduce confusion in the process and work happens smoothly.Eventually it will lead to a better work culture as the process will be self-sustained.This will also buy you a lot of time. In addition to that, it helps managers find newer KPIs as per the team’s performance.

· Track Communication Channels

Various communication channels like group conference or team meeting, one-on-one calls are all good means to measure your team’s productivity as it keeps them connected, on the same page.

For example, you can tap onto metrics like decision-making, team cohesiveness, the way the communication is established, and the way opposition is taken into consideration, how ethical or respectfully are contradicting opinions being presented.

Video calls have always been voted for establishing better communication quality, so use it to understand your employee dynamics.Ensure to provide your virtual team with the right communication tool.

Conclusion

There are always ups and downs to a team’s productivity, whether it’s a traditional in-house team or a virtual one.But repeated downs can eventually fizzle out the purpose of the team and this is quicker to happen among virtual teams.

Measuring certainly sounds more quantitative but don’t forget to tap into the tangible measures as well.Approach these mechanisms with a sharp observation and don’t hesitate to tweak things here and there to make it work better!

Although, internet has connected us all globally, it takes much more human interaction and social connect to build a mutual sense of trust to be able to achieve greater business goals.

Productivity Virtual Assistant
Upasana Iyer

Upasana Iyer

A virtual assistant at Wishup, trained mental health professional with an ardent love for writing. Upasana has over a decade's experience in writing and translation in the media industry.

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