Managing the Mobile Workforce

Managing the Mobile Workforce

 Leading, Building, and Sustaining Virtual Teams

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Workplaces need to remember that no matter what, employees are people. That means they come with their own set of needs, including needs for connectedness and belonging (as we are all social animals). Yet in today’s world, we often get that connection through online technologies — at least our personal lives. What about in work? This book explores the different aspects of human connectedness — be it through teams (virtual or face-to-face) or individuals (what do you do with a new employee anyhow?) They all remind us that we need others — no one is an island, especially when it comes to meaningful and productive work. If you don’t already work on a virtual team — a team whose members live and work in geographically disparate communities yet connect primarily through technology such as teleconferences, videoconferences and email — chances are good that you someday will. According to this book, “the number of worldwide mobile workers will reach one billion by 2011, which includes nearly 75 percent of the U.S. workforce.” Many books and articles have been written about how to leverage the technology for virtual teams, yet there has been very little about creating a strategy for this new work environment, and sustaining the individuals who are part of this virtual reality. How do employees, who may be used to gathering face-to-face for meetings, connect over videoconference and still feel emotionally connected? How can a team effectively brainstorm and attain synergy over a phone line? How do you get informal social networking going — a key predictor of innovation — when people are separated by hundreds or thousands of kilometres? Clemons and Kroth tackle these questions, as well as others. They do not shy away from dicey topics such as managing virtual teams (where there is a high risk to micro-manage because the manager does not see the employee on a regular basis), recruiting for a virtual workforce, and creating a performance management system that works within this new structure. This bookaptly demonstrates that people are still people, with emotional and psychological needs, and connection becomes even more critical — something that technology cannot replace.