When Marissa Mayer, CEO at Yahoo, ordered employees to work on-site instead of at home, her decision provoked debate about the productivity factor of virtual workers. I’ve followed this discussion with great interest, because I collaborate with location independent professionals. I’m based in Paris, they are busy at work in Europe, North America, Africa and the Eurasian region. My clients are international companies who need to outsource communication projects and are looking for copywriting, project management, translation or design services. I can handle smaller assignments myself, but when larger projects cross borders and require experts that know the language and local market, I call in the team.
I first worked with virtual collaborators when I was a partner in a Silicon Valley consultancy. Clients trusted our ability to deliver and the jobs rolled in. When public relations firms needed copywriting help for a special event, the phone started ringing. If there was an on-site meeting at a company, someone from the team was there. If a photographer was needed, we knew the right person to call. At one point, I was working with clients in the US and Europe, using a laptop and a well-connected team of collaborators. I could have started a traditional agency with employees sitting in cubicles. But my partner and I didn’t…we stayed small but highly focused on our capabilities and had smart, competent people working with us. The same success factor exists today with my business Architect of Communication.
Keeping a virtual team together requires planning, good management skills and a sense of humor is useful. It’s important to be accessible, transparent and open to both your customers and work mates. But when you have a good team, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.
“Suppose you put in place a project team where people from different regions collaborate to develop a product that responds successfully to a variety of local markets,” says Erin Meyer, INSEAD Affiliate Professor of Organisational Behaviour. “In this case you need people who are IN those markets and regions to work as one team. So in that case, team members will need to be geographically distributed and there is a clear, positive reason they need to be in different places. In that case, the benefit of the geographic distribution likely outweighs the disadvantages.” Read the entire article here.
Bottom-line: I’m convinced that a virtual team is a cost-effective and strategic way to deliver quality communication support, wherever you are in the world, and when you need it. Need some backup statistics? Check this Cost & Benefits summary from Global Workplace Analytics.