Talent Maximization

3 Ways to Create a Successful Virtual Team

A photo of three women communicating through an online conference line suggesting the benefits of virtual talent and using freelancers or contractors on a virtual team. 

For almost two decades, there has been a growing demand for virtual talent. The events of 2020 led many businesses to deploy work-at-home models. Now in 2021, as we settle into the “new normal,” many of these organizations plan to keep the virtual work models they’ve adopted.

Today’s job candidates expect more flexibility. Forty percent of all employers now allow at least some employees to work from home regularly, according to the 2016 National Study of Employers conducted by the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM). Powerhouse recruiting platform, Indeed, indicated that job searches for flexible work, such as working from home, jumped more than 58 percent.  

Despite the growing demand for virtual work, some business owners are still reluctant to tap into this powerful talent model. Discover how you can competitively position your business to attract better talent, improve efficiencies, and balance workloads through your use of virtual teams and a WFH model.

Best Practices

Serial entrepreneur Terri Maxwell, co-author of the New World of Work: From the Cube to the Cloud, noted that:

“Small businesses who adopt a virtual work model create a competitive advantage for their company. A virtual work model increases flexibility, attracts better talent, and lowers overall cost – WHILE improving their ability to scale.”

Maxwell says there are 3 common practices of businesses who have successfully set up a virtual team and remote work model:

  • Outsource non-core functions first
  • Manage results rather than people
  • Build a virtual culture   

1) Outsource Non-Core Functions First

The best way to increase scalability AND profitability is to outsource non-core functions first. From administrative and accounting to social media or marketing as well as some project management, if the activity is not core to your product or service, it can be outsourced. A virtual team of freelancers can help positively offset your talent needs by focusing on tasks specific to their specialized skills – allowing your team to focus on what’s essential.  

“The benefit to outsourcing non-core functions is that you get specialized talent, available on-demand, but at reasonable prices. Because they don’t need to be local and can work only when needed, you’re don’t have to pay for a full-time resource when you only need part-time support,” Maxwell said.

2) Manage Results Rather than People

Maxwell explained that the biggest mistake businesses make is trying to manage workers on a virtual team as if they were employees.

She added, “The beauty of what I call “virtualpreneurs” is that they don’t need to be managed the way most employees do. By setting clear goals and outcomes, freelancers can manage their own work product. As an entrepreneur, I learned that it’s easier to manage results rather than people, and now I get better output in less time.”

For this to occur, knowing how to select a qualified freelancer is key.

“What I love about ResultsResourcing is that they help define the job outcomes IN the role description, so I don’t have to figure that out on my own. Then, they vet the qualified candidates for me, saving time and avoiding the costly mistake of choosing non-qualified freelancers,” Maxwell noted.

Experts at Entrepreneur.com agree:

  • Have clear and detailed deliverables: Simply telling somebody to do something is usually not the way to go about managing teams. Neither is micro-managing which is why some managers avoid giving instructions with too many details. It is better to provide more detailed descriptions of the tasks with examples of what the final result should look like. Give the team the freedom to execute it.
  • Finding the right freelancer: Not everyone is cut out for remote work and not everyone is a cultural fit for your company. Ensure you know how to find talent that not only has the expertise but also shares the cultural values of your brand.

Whether you’re using freelancers or not, adopting an approach of managing results and not people can help improve your business and culture in many ways.  

3) Build a Virtual Culture

“Culture is one of the most powerful differentiators small businesses have. When you combine a good culture with a flexible work model, you become a magnet for great talent,” Maxwell said.

Keys to building a virtual culture:

Some key ways that your organization can build a virtual culture include:

  • Communication: Plan communication in advance. Set quick status meetings weekly, and find ways to streamline communication, such as standardized reports.
  • Productivity: Letting staff set their own hours so they can work when they are most productive, be it early in the morning or late at night, everyone wins.
  • Motivation: A strong company culture and the freedom that the flexibility provides, helps workers to be more motivated.

Maxwell added: “Once I started thinking about what it would be like to work in my own company, I realized that building a great culture wasn’t hard. Simply build the type of company that you would want to work for.”

A virtual team offers many benefits for business of all sizes. If you’d like to learn if a virtual talent adoption is right for you, we offer you take our free assessment.

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