Virtual staff tend to report higher job satisfaction, deliver enhanced productivity, and demonstrate lower turnover intention than physically co-located staff. With these benefits, why do so many firms struggle to gain traction with their virtual initiatives?
Bâton Global brings insight to this challenge through an application of learning from Just-In-Time's (JIT) success to virtual teams. As discussed in Part One of this series, decades ago, the JIT production methodology transformed the global economy by combining new capabilities to reduce flow times within production systems, as well as response times from suppliers and to customers. The JIT production revolution can be mined to help understand how new opportunities can be leveraged to improve human capital and management strategies. In this article, we will look specifically to some of the impacts that emerging trends are having upon the search for talent and discuss what you should be doing to capitalize on these trends to support your firm’s transformation to the virtual world of work.
There are a number of shifts underway that impact today’s workforce. Despite their wide variety, all trends are reinforcing the creation of a broad and talented virtual workforce. For example:
These differing trends are having a reinforcing effect in the creation of a wider than ever pool of talented individuals open to virtual employment.
Firms should be positioning themselves to take advantage of this growing pool of virtual workers. In the same way that the JIT revolution sparked an expansion in nimble suppliers, the foundation has been laid for a more mature and capable cadre of virtual teams.
Suppliers innovating in the JIT environment didn’t appear out of thin air. They were created deliberately and with clarity. As JIT capabilities were built up by production facilities, their suppliers were given very specific information regarding parameters and tolerances. This level of direction was required to “jump start” the relationship by ensuring commonality of definition and purpose.
To what extent are your firm’s values and processes ready to be clearly and unambiguously communicated to prospective staff? Is there explicit process-related information in your job specifications that relate to measurable expectations and performance requirements? Are they strongly enough constructed to be understood by a virtual team member?
In addition to the challenges of clarity discussed above, the success of JIT was in many ways attributable to the agency the suppliers had in the process. The reliance upon clear and specific communication of aims doesn’t mean that this process is static or one-way. Viewing virtual staff as a supplier in the JIT context allows one to appreciate the high degree of agency with which the relationship should be handled. Good process refinement methodology encourages iterative development of the processes by the people directly involved in the task. This agency drives continued process improvement and increased retention.
To what extent are your firm's processes regularly and critically reviewed and modified in conjunction with the staff performing the task? How is this iterative process communicated with existing and potential staff to reinforce a culture of excellence?
Bâton Global applies a holistic approach to process management that enables firms to realize performance and quality gains while communicating them more clearly to prospective staff as part of the hiring and onboarding phases of the relationship. The lessons of JIT are clear – if one wants to realize quantum improvements from their virtual talent, a robust means of re-examining and changing the dynamic is required.