Engage, inspire and empower

21st October 2016 News

Turn the virtual workforce into reality


The ability to work virtually makes your Company stand out – both for Customers and Colleagues and is ever easier to achieve.

The virtual workforce is not a new concept.  For instance, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have been available in businesses since the 1980’s.  Similarly, the advent of email and fax before that has allowed employees to work from a distance for decades.

What has changed, however, is the speed and ease with which virtual working is now possible.  For instance, cloud technologies allow colleagues to collaborate on documents instantaneously wherever they are on the planet.  Tools like Skype for Business allow for real-time communications regardless of location and the explosion of mobile technology means people really can be ‘at the office’ wherever they are.

However, the virtual workforce is about more than just the available technology.  It also needs to be seen in relation to a range of additional trends which are beginning to affect businesses everywhere.

A demand for greater flexibility

The virtual workforce is now widely possible.  Employees expect that they will have the option to work from home a couple of days per week.  Those employers that allow for virtually working are more attractive by prospective job seekers.

The ‘gig’ economy

The last decade has been an explosion in the number of people in the UK describing themselves as self-employed.  Offering a virtual working environment gives you the opportunity to rapidly provide external employees access to your environments.

Sustainability and employee satisfaction

There aren’t many workers who relish a long commute to work.  Not only are season tickets expensive, commuting is also stressful and can be harmful to the environment.  Allowing employees to work virtually and travel to the office less often can have multiple benefits.

Boost productivity, cut stress and reduce employee turnover

Data from the Office of National Statistics Labour Force Survey found that last year, around 13.7% of the UK’s population worked from home.  A figure which is constantly on the rise.  The benefits of creating a virtual workforce are significant.  YouGov research published in October 2015 found that 30% of virtual workers felt that their productivity increased when working remotely.  A study by Stanford University found that employee turnover dropped by as much as 50% at companies with a virtual workforce.

This all represent an exciting opportunity.  Nevertheless, employers have valid concerns about the virtual workforce.  Managers need to feel they can trust employees to do their jobs.  Regulated industries may feel nervous about employees accessing sensitive data from their local café and many workers might miss the interaction and relationships they build with colleagues.

Create the virtual workforce that is right for you

Understanding how the virtual workforce can be applied in your business, and implementing it in a way that brings about change positively, will take long term planning, strategy and change management.

When done well, you will be excellently placed to reap the rewards of this new workforce evolution years in advance of your competitors.

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