Managing a business with employees scattered across the globe comes with its own set of challenges and advantages. The relative novelty and non-conventional nature of virtual business leaves much room for innovation and ingenuity. Allowing your business to function from home not only saves you money, but it eliminates frustrating commutes and workplace distractions to heighten both you and your workers’ productivity. There are still hurdles to overcome, however here are some tips to keep your virtual business running smoothly.
The physical distance and general disconnect of interacting with workers online can cause issues in a virtual business. It’s nearly impossible to gage employee satisfaction or dissatisfaction without directly asking them, so that is exactly what you or your managers need to make happen.
Consider organizing a team meeting if at all possible. Once racking up enough rewards points on your American Express business credit cards, fly your workers to a single location; your office if you have one. Employees meeting face-to-face can promote company loyalty and the general satisfaction of physical interaction, opposed to the anonymity of Internet collaboration.
Ralph Dandrea, founder and chief executive of ITX Corporation, uses an online recognition program called Potential Point, according to The New York Times. The idea is to offer positive reinforcement in the form of virtual rewards. The entire company can see when workers are nominated for work well done.
Holding your staff accountable is difficult considering the absence of all employees. One of the critical first steps that managers should take is developing a document outlining non-negotiable rules. Chat with each worker so that employees fully understand the company’s protocol and disciplinary actions. Establishing expectations with perfect clarity will address the problems of missed deadlines or tardiness. When hiring workers in the first place, ensure they have an impressive resume and are able to self-motivate themselves.
If these steps don’t incite accountability and productivity, there are further actions to take. Look into using software to remotely monitor employees’ Internet usage while on the clock. Some owners of online companies even require cell phones to contact and track employees if they fail to clock in for work.
As the lines between home and work blur, it can be a struggle to disengage your inner-worker and enjoy off time. Time zones further muddle daily shifts between workers separated by oceans. By establishing a set time frame in your time zone and asking employees to conform to those hours, everyone can work simultaneously as in a true office environment. Implementing this strategy will foster a sense of unity; assure that everyone is awake when questions need answering and teamwork is required.
A separation of work and play is also imperative to mental health. A fine line drawn between the work day and recreation will allow for time to spend with family and other hobbies as well as a much-need vacation.