Should You Ignore Turning Virtual Just To ‘Play It Safe’?
There is comfort in the familiar that’s why it’s not unusual for people to cling to what they’re used to. As such, change is given the cold shoulder automatically, not given even the slightest chance to make its case. This applies to almost anything in the world, including project management. People who shun change aren’t always wrong but there are many instances when they lose out on the benefits of something new because they favored the old. They hide behind the idea that you’re not supposed to fix it if it’s not broken. They have a point. But in the case of task management, new is almost always better because somehow there’s always a better way to do things.
Defining the divide
To help you get a better sense of turning virtual, maybe it’s a good idea to first define what traditional and virtual agile project managements are. At the heart of it, traditional and virtual team management only differ in how physically close to each other you are with your team. Traditionally, that would mean you are working in physical proximity with your team, with members either working literally side-by-side or at the very least residing in the same city. Yes, even a remote workforce can still be considered traditional if the only difference in your arrangement is that they work from their homes. All tasks, all collaboration tools used are the same as those in the physical office, although truthfully this is more of a mix of traditional and virtual team management. You may have actually gotten a taste of going virtual already without even knowing it! As for managing a virtual workforce, it means working with a team across geographical points, which may or may not entail dealing with different time zones. If you take a closer look though, traditional and successful virtual teams are both essentially working together to reach a goal. They just differ in how these goals are met.
Understanding the virtual argument
Your reservations about virtual management are understandable because there is nothing comfortable about trying new ways when the old ones have perfectly served you through the years. Still, you have to understand as well that improvements are not your enemy. You may not have a need for new project management methodologies per se, but that doesn’t mean you can automatically disregard them. Hear them out first before you make your decision. If you really are being adamant because you only have your team’s best interests in mind, don’t you think you owe them a shot at being allowed to do their work better?
The true cost of going virtual
Cutting right to the chase, going virtual, being reliant on a project management tool (which could lead to an obsession with finding the best project management software), will save you a lot of money. For a lot of businesses that’s really the best thing about going virtual because you have to admit that no one dislikes being to look back and say, hey, you saved a lot of money. Aside from potentially improving how you do things (which boosts productivity, leading to better output which lets you earn more), you’ll be cutting back on many expenses because, for one, you can either make do with a smaller office or even completely say goodbye to one, and you know how expensive office space can be.
There’s also the matter of cutting back on electricity costs plus possible reductions in allowances and subsidies. Successful virtual teams collaborate so you can’t completely do away with collaborative tools. But even so, costs for collaborative tools can be next to zero because there are a lot of impressive solutions that are available free of charge. You’d have to pay for premium services but even that is considered change compared to what you can save. Just how much can you save? Actual figures will vary but it’s possible to save as much as $8,000 on overhead costs for every employee that goes virtual. You don’t even have to completely prove that collaboration tools can improve knowledge work to reap its advantages!
You can also take the more selfless route and think about the benefits of going virtual in terms of what it can do for your employees. Especially for those with families, this means extra time spent with loved ones because they won’t have to spend precious hours on the commute to and from work. Even if that means just a couple of hours a day you can spend on your kids, it would make all the difference. In fact, if you check out the best practices for creating a virtual workforce, you’ll see that many, if not all of them, are geared towards efficiency, which saves time.
Is it for you?
What you have to keep in mind is that going virtual has its pros and cons, as with anything else. It is not for everyone, but this isn’t a bad thing at all. It just means that going virtual is a matter of figuring out if the solution fits you. Different businesses have different needs, after all, so the same solutions may not work, no matter how similar situations may be. At the same time though, don’t treat traditional and virtual management practices completely separate. Sometimes, virtual management challenges are like companions to traditional ones so solving one may lead to progress for another. You’ll see this mostly at play in a workforce that employs both traditional and virtual methods. If you’re going to argue that going virtual just seems too risky, doesn’t everything about business come with risk? Your very business is a risk, if you think about it. Don’t let your fears get in the way of doing what’s best for your team. You’re more logical than this. Give it a try first. Give your very own virtual management team room to grow. You don’t have to go 100% virtual immediately. Dip your toes in and see how it goes. The results may surprise you.