The days of workplaces located in a single office are done. Today’s workforce is distributed — across multiple small offices, embracing work-at-home-employees, and spread across continents — and IT has always been at the forefront of that change, eagerly embracing new communications technologies that make it possible. But we’re only a few years into this shift, and the tools and techniques we’ve used to manage a workforce and forge them into a team when they don’t meet at the water cooler every day are in some ways still in their infancy.
Some of what makes it difficult to manage a virtual team just boils down to logistics. For instance, PhoenixNAP Global IT Services, with employees working in North America and Europe, inevitably runs into problems scheduling across time zones, says company President and CEO Ian McClarty. “Since the vast majority of our employees are in either the Mountain or Central European zones,” he says, “the bulk of our meetings and discussions take place in a four-hour window that’s at the start of the U.S. day (7 to 11 a.m.) and the end of the European day (3 to 7 pm or 4 to 8 p.m.). This avoids anyone having to attend a meeting in the middle of the night, although of course that sometimes happens.”
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