You have probably heard a lot about the use of remote workers on projects but is it something which you could be interested in doing? More project managers than ever are finding out about the benefits of doing this but is it right for you?
There are a few different points to bear in mind here so let’s take a look at some of the most important among them.
Probably the main reason why the use of remote workers has increased so much in recent years is that it is seen as a fairly simple way to save some money. If you live in a big, expensive city somewhere like the US or the UK then you are probably going to be amazed at how much of your staff budget you can save by going to a foreign country for your workers, as these freelancers can often do the same job as someone in your city but charge a lot less. The savings can be very high and if you give the outsourcing system a try with one job you might end up tempted to do it with more in the future. Best of all, you will have a list of freelancers you previously used who will already be in your contacts list and ready to do any other work you send them in the future. Of course, it isn’t all about saving money, which leads us nicely onto the next point.
The Skill Levels
Another possibility is that you need some specialist work done and there is no one locally who can do it. This is probably most likely if your base is in a relatively small city which doesn’t give you access to such a big selection of potential employees as you would have in a bigger city. In this case there are some incredibly skilled global freelancers whom you could hire for the specific job you need doing. This is especially useful if it is something which you are going to need done only once; meaning that there is no point in paying to get one of your team members trained on it. Of course, there are sure to be other circumstances in which it suits you better to get one of your team members trained on something which could be useful to have knowledge of on future projects.
Probably the most difficult part of running a virtual project team is the communication. The availability of video conferencing facilities means that you can now communicate with anyone anywhere in the world but you could still find that time differences and language barriers are enough to make your life a bit more complicated than if you had your team sitting next to you all day long. If the other points on this list are big enough advantages for you then you might consider making the effort on the communication issue, as it is certainly far from impossible to overcome. However, it the cost benefits and the skills availability aren’t really that big a deal then you might decide against doing it for this reason.
The Team Spirit
Another of the biggest drawbacks to having a geographically diverse team is that it is hard to foster the kind of team spirit which you would like to have. It is obviously far easier to get your team members pulling together and having some fun if they are all in one room at the same time. How important this is to you will probably depend on a number of factors, such as your team leading style and the type of work you are dealing with as well. It is certainly nice to have a happy team beside you on a long project, although you might see it as somewhat less important on a shorter piece of work.
The Balanced Approach
An option which is worth considering is that of trying to find the balance between a remote team and a virtual one. Maybe could have a few key staff members who sit next to you and others who work from remote locations around the globe. This could give you the best of both worlds if you do it right, as you could save money on the overall staff budget but still have a team near you. It is relatively easy to increase or decrease the size of a virtual team so this is a work system which has a high degree of flexibility to it.