Procurement 101Cost Control and Other Top Challenges Faced by Virtual Teams

Last Updated: 29 April, 2020

Everyone makes it sound easy for a company to shift to virtual work, but it’s not. Working virtually is challenging, especially doing so with effective cost control strategies that won’t break the bank. Difficult or not, however, virtual work is here to stay.

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FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics estimated approximately 3.4 percent of the population (4.7 million people) were working from home in 2018, two years prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns. Both the World Economic Forum and Pew Research Center report that number grew to 7 percent (9.8 million) by the end of 2019, although access to telework varies greatly by industry.

Much of the issue revolves around the costs associated with shifting current production to accommodate virtual work. This guide will explain the purpose of cost control procedures in this new remote work environment. Let’s start with the benefits of virtual teams.

Benefits of Virtual Teams

Working from home is now a common way of life for businesses large and small. This isn’t the first time it happened either. In 2015, for example, a series of earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand from 2010 to 2012 made virtual work the norm there. A government-backed study found employees were happier than bosses, rating their satisfaction with their independence and stress levels above 4 out of 5.

Virtual workers report enhanced concentration, less stress about commuting time and costs, and feeling safer working at home. Take commutes, for example. A study from the U.S. Census Bureau found the average American commutes 52.2 minutes each day both ways. This amounts to 200 hours each year spent traveling to and from work every day.

 

(Getting stuck in morning commute traffic – not many people’s favorite way to spend 200 hours a year!)

 

Giving this extra time back to employees alone means they will be happier, healthier, and wealthier. Their overall life satisfaction is returned through increased productivity and quality. Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows – virtual work has its difficulties.

Virtual Team Challenges and Solutions

Virtual work comes with a variety of problems, ranging from miscommunications to lack of motivation, missing leadership, and security breaches. Each of these concerns is valid, and there are thankfully solutions that can keep your team running as quick and securely from remote locations as they do at the home office.

Securing Virtual Team Communication

Communication is the number one resource for your business, and you need to keep this communication running when working virtually. This means you need to hire the right people to foster regular communications, and you need to arm them with the best tools to stay connected.

 

(Simply adding more phones to a desk isn’t always the best communication strategy.)

 

From chat clients like Slack to full procurement and purchasing workflow management platforms like Tradogram, your team’s communication is key. Instill a culture of communication among teammates, but ensure they only do so using company-provided encrypted channels.

Managing Virtual Teams Training

Training is another pain point when moving virtually. Whether onboarding new team members or providing continuous learning to existing ones, your trainers need a secure, reliable environment. Thankfully Tradogram incorporates a training environment with the live, production environment.

This gives trainers and trainees a secure sandbox environment to learn the ropes and get up to speed, without disturbing production. In addition, regular status check-ins and full access to a subject-matter-expert makes it easier to work from home without all the job aides of the office.

Challenges of Virtual Meetings

According to Harvard Business School, maintaining regular meetings will be part of your company’s virtual work foundation. Business meetings may get a bad rap, but they’re fundamental pieces to keep everyone updated on the state and status of a variety of project.

Of course, of course, Zoom-bombing is becoming prolific, as malicious pranksters insert themselves into business meetings. This is why many organizations are avoiding standalone meeting software like Zoom in favor of fully collaborative platforms.

Challenges to Leadership in Virtual Teams

The hardest part of managing virtual teams is managing virtual teams. There will inevitably be challenges for leadership during these times. You have a lot of new processes to look over in an unfamiliar environment. While employees rate their virtual work experiences highly, management is often less enthused in these same studies.

 

(Make sure employees aren’t floating aimlessly around their virtual workspaces – and that you didn’t hire a dog by mistake.)

 

It’s important to maintain a sense of normalcy and keep everyone on the same page, focused on quality and production within their individual business units. Using a unified platform for virtual work can make everything easier, without bankrupting your company.

COVID-19 is causing economic turmoil, and neither people nor businesses are immune. What will ultimately get you through it is maintaining cost control procedures moving forward.

Cost Control Procedures for Virtual Teams in the Workplace

A study from Cornell University determined that virtual communication can effectively be used as a viable alternative to face-to-face contact. It requires the right tools, technology, and people. With the proper task-technology fit and both interpersonal and strategic measures taken, it’s entirely possible to migrate to virtual work. The only thing truly stopping many businesses is the perception of its leaders.

Cost control can easily be maintained in five simple steps:

  1. Involve everyone. Employees are well aware we’re living in a time of unprecedented economic turbulence. Workers are being furloughed and companies are going out of business. Everyone needs to do their part to control costs.
  2. Go digital. With virtual work forcing it, you can create a truly paperless environment. Use this opportunity to go greener with digital processes.
  3. Be sustainable. Reduce costs by reducing your office footprint, now that you know virtual work is possible.
  4. Use temps. From entry level to the c-suite, temp workers can be found to fill in any gaps in transitioning your company. Take advantage of the gig economy.
  5. Enjoy the challenge. Things are always changing in business. Your job as a leader is to take the reigns, and you need a passion for what you’re doing.

 

(Implementing a spend management system isn’t hard, and you don’t have to do it alone in a dark basement!)

With these steps in place, you’ll be well on your way to managing costs while working virtually. You don’t have to do it alone either. Tradogram is a full-service cost containment suite with all the tools you need to fully optimize your company’s fiscal policies.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you get a grip on the costs of virtual work.

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