The internet and advancements in technology have made it very easy to run a virtual workplace. However, when you use freelancers and employees working from home, you need to be able to maintain accountability. Sometimes, a simple messaging program is all you need, but other times, it takes more. Here are a few ways to ensure you gain full accountability in a virtual workplace.
Set clear policies, goals and expectations
Running a virtual office doesn’t provide any excuses for workers not to meet your goals and expectations. You want to make sure everybody knows what to expect and the direction of the company. If your goals and expectations are not clear, it’s not easy for freelancers and employees to understand the role they play in your vision.
If you run a hybrid of an actual office space and virtual space, you may set a policy stating that any virtual workers missing multiple deadlines lose the privilege to telecommute. When your entire office is virtual, missing multiple deadlines may simply mean you find a replacement, especially if you’re using a freelancer. Policies may be different for each role and circumstance, but making sure your policies, goals and expectations are clear will help with accountability in the virtual work space.
Provide realistic measurements
The virtual work space is different than a physical office and the way you measure success and failure needs to be different, too. For example, if the application you use for your virtual workplace crashes, your team may miss a deadline. This shouldn’t be measured as a failure, as it was just a technology glitch.
This may also happen with employees or freelancers living in different areas. Sometimes, one team member is working hard, while the other seems to be gone for the day. Maybe the team member that’s gone is dealing with internet issues due to a storm or another reason. Make sure you take these things into account when measuring the success or failure of your virtual team.
Evaluate workers based on outcome
Some of your workers may not see the need to pop into the virtual workplace much. In fact, it may be a huge distraction for them. Make sure you evaluate the performance of your employees and freelancers based on what they produce, not how often they are in the message application or logged on to your virtual workplace.
In some cases, you may have one worker completing tasks much faster than another. As long as the work is done and delivered before the deadline, this shouldn’t cause any issue. It’s also important to understand, just because a worker is logged into your virtual workplace, doesn’t mean they are actually doing work.
Sometimes, employees are very good at seeming busy when they are not producing nearly as much as the salary you are paying them. With freelancers, it’s a bit difference because they are usually getting paid based on performance instead of a salary or hourly model.
Communication is the backbone
If you plan to run a successful virtual work space and you want to hold everybody accountable, you need to be able to communicate. It’s best to have some type of regular, every day communication for your team and hold weekly meetings of some sort. Whether you use video conferencing, a message board or another form of communication, you need the right set up.
Often, virtual teams will use online collaboration software to allow for full team meetings. This helps to keep everybody informed and allows for great communication for your virtual team.
Get to know your workers
Whether a freelancer or a salary employee, you should get to know every one of your team members. If you know them on a more personal level, it’s easier to understand their weaknesses and strengths. This makes it much easier when you need to hold them accountable or you need to assign new tasks.
One-on-one video chats are a great way to get to know your team when using a virtual work space. You have the ability to speak with them directly, almost like you are sitting across from them at a table. Take the time to get to know your team and accountability will become easier.
There are several ways to maintain accountability in a virtual workplace. Whether you run your entire company through the virtual world or just a portion of it, you can use the above strategies to maintain full accountability for all your virtual workers.