Since the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen no shortage of work from home guides — and no wonder! This total shift in daily life is unprecedented, and we’ll all take as much help adjusting to it as we can get. That said, shutting down our offices and social spaces has created an issue that goes beyond adjusting to the challenges of working from home.
It’s vital to devote attention to the issues facing your workforce during an emergency: Because nothing is more important than the health and safety of our community, care must be taken when developing a business recovery plan that will help provide that health and safety.
It’s time to adopt a “new normal.” The time to embrace Virtual Workforce Models is here.
What to consider about where you work
A company’s disaster recovery plan usually focuses on moving an entire team to a new, safe location until normalcy resumes. But what if you have to disband your teams and send them home immediately? And indefinitely? What if your suppliers and customers have also been displaced?
Now that we are confronting this exact scenario, it leaves us with a few questions about where we work:
- If we now see that most work can be done from home, are traditional office spaces really still necessary? Can the use of commercial offices be reduced, or even eliminated?
- Could space be rented only as needed for team meetings? Do we need in-person meetings at all?
- Does working from home change the agreements you have with your employees? Will any issues arise from expecting employees or contractors to work in ways not specified in their contracts?
- How do the expectations you have for your employees change now that they’re working from home? Do you expect employees and contractors to be instantly available as if they’re still at their desks, or is it alright to give them more self-directed time to complete their tasks?
Depending on your answers to these questions, you’ll probably want to start to consider implementing a Virtual Workforce Model as part of your business’ recovery plan. Read more on this by downloading our Virtual Workforce Model whitepaper.
So, what is a Virtual Workforce Model?
A Virtual Workforce Model uses remotely accessible technology to enable distributed, remote work in all areas of your business. The approach uses Virtual Talent Pods (flexible teams) to complete tasks they receive from Demand Management. These Pods bring people, their skills, and the resources and tools they need together to solve problems.
This idea goes beyond simply taking the job descriptions and tasks your team had at the office and replicating them at home. Virtual Workforce Models are about freeing up workers from the restraints of a traditional office setting and rethinking the way that teams are assembled, and tasks are completed.
What are the benefits of a Virtual Workforce Model?
Shifting to a Virtual Workforce Model is not only a way to address the immediate needs of the COVID-19 quarantine, it is the first step to rethinking what’s best for your business. The Virtual aspect of the Virtual Workforce Model benefits your business through:
Work from home is one thing, but Location Independence is more. Current employees and contractors get the flexibility to choose where they want to live, and employers get the benefit of sourcing talent from practically anywhere in the world (without convincing a candidate to move to where your offices are).
The traditional method of building a team with highly specialized skills means that workers either acquire skills they rarely use or have to perform skills that aren’t part of their core set. Virtual Workforce Models encourage swapping out the members of the Pods to bring in the right skills to tackle the job at hand.
This is a way to help an entire team learn to better work and solve problems together. The Virtual Workforce Model incorporates training programs that elevate the skill sets of everyone in the business.
Whereas computing resources used to be kept locally by a traditional team, in a Virtual Workforce Model, these resources can be almost completely separated from a physical location. However, consideration must be made for distributing the security devices (keycards, scanners, etc.) needed to comply with privacy laws.
The traditional methods of thinking out loud in a group environment need to be carried over and promoted in a new distributed workforce model. A virtual team, by definition, leaves behind digitized artifacts of these discussions that can be archived for future reference.
Learn the full benefits of the Virtual Workforce Model over in our whitepaper.
Applying the Virtual Workforce Model
The coming recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to unpredictable workloads, and traditional static business models will simply not be enough to handle them. The Virtual Workforce Model supports and encourages workplace flexibility, while Virtual Talent Pods provide the flexibility to assemble and disassemble skills and embrace a wider view of how vendors can help take on larger tasks.
Instead of looking at this uncertain period as a lull in your business’ progress, consider it an opportunity to get ready for what comes next.
- Use this time to train and prepare. Many client-facing roles will be less busy during parts of this downtime, making this a great opportunity to think about the soft and hard skills that your workforce will need in the coming years
- Improve your corporate network and servers. Preventing the failure of your company’s VPN connections now that most of your workforce is using it is something you’ll want to stay on top of
- Broaden your definition of Proximity. For teams that really should work together to be successful, consider contracting with a partner who can provide safer facilities, or who can provide a temporary workforce to complement your own
- Build opportunities for your teams to talk and engage on non-work topics. If in-person socialization is no longer possible, mark out time during meetings for a “joke of the week” or personal updates… maybe an after-hours virtual happy hour?
Ready or not, offices have emptied and the workforce has been sent home. This means that now is the time to think through the entire Virtual Workforce Model and its benefits. Move fast, but also think long term. Your clients and employees will have new expectations moving forward that the old methods simply won’t live up to—and your reputation and revenue may suffer for it.
The company that embraces the Virtual Workforce Model will be in a great position to manage uncertainty. Our advice? Use the Virtual Workforce Model to obtain a flexibility that will set you apart from competitors and take advantage of a B2B ecosystem that’s eager to support your business goals.