When institutions look to the future, the most innovative and successful leaders realize the potential that virtual workforces have to change the face of business. Increasingly, leadership and institutions are viewing work as something you do, rather than somewhere you go. As institutions expand across the nation and the globe, remote labour forces are becoming crucial to business success. 

As work from home continues to take root, virtual workplaces may soon become more common than physical office spaces, especially when you factor in the past growth rate. Each year, the population of remote workers grows and observing this pattern leads to the belief that remote workforces are here to stay. The trend toward remote work is gaining such a hold in the workplace that colleges and universities are beginning to introduce programs dedicated solely to best practices for remote work. 

Remote workers help maintain an institutions’ competitive advantage. Remote employees contribute to higher profits, larger market shares, and an ambitious edge. Before incorporating remote employees into our institution, managers must understand every facet of the virtual workforce to establish the most successful remote team.

Challenges of having a virtual staff are as follows:



Communicating with a virtual team is harder than with co-located employees for one very important reason: Communication through any vein other than face to face is simply not natural. 

As human beings, face-to-face communication is the most instinctive way to communicate; in-person communication is a natural skill humans have been practising for thousands of years. Moreover, words alone do not always convey the intended message. Human beings are most likely to understand the message when they have a combination of verbal and physical hints. 

Technology, phone or e-mail, limits the number of external cues available. When working remotely, hints offered through body language and facial expressions are not evident. Without these hints, added focus and brainpower are required to translate communication. With the lack of physical hints come misconceptions.

Communication issues within the virtual workforce lead to an ineffective remote team and can cause managers to be hesitant to implement distance working. Managers need to establish effective practices and training for managing these communication challenges to handle any issues that arise. 


2. Technology and Tools

Imagine working away on a report, and all of a sudden that little hourglass or spinning wheel appears on the screen and the screen goes black, and you feel the beginning of dread in your stomach. Now imagine taking an important phone call, and your cellular service drops the call seconds before the person on the other end provides very important information. Further, have you ever checked your e-mail repeatedly and wondered why you’re not receiving any response to the important message you sent, you decide to call the recipient and realize the e-mail somehow got lost in cyberspace. Now you have missed the deadline and there’s nothing to be done.

We all have experienced one or more of these incidents. As handy as technology can be, there are some disadvantages to it. Technology enables the remote team to succeed, but it does not always provide perfect channels of communication. Face-to-face communication requires only one tool and that is your body. Most people are very well aware of how to use this tool in communicating with others. But remote employees’ communication revolves around the use of technology more than their co-located counterparts, and so complications that could result from the use of tools are more hurtful.


3. Privacy

Privacy is also a matter of concern when communicating via tools. When dealing face to face, we are often aware of who can hear our conversations or see what we are discussing. However, when a technology tool is thrown into the mix, channels can be navigated, information can be sent to the wrong person, and computers can be hijacked. And there’s a greater possibility that the individual’s privacy is limited. Also, IT support is not necessarily as easily accessible for remote workers. Sometimes people have to wait days before resolving technology related issues due to problems that could lead to inconvenience for coworkers, clients, and managers, especially if a project is on a tight deadline.


4. Building Relationships

Many people stick to the philosophy that when you are not visible, you should not necessarily be considered. Most remote employees will never interact face to face with many of their coworkers. That means they are less visible in the work environment and the chance of coworkers forgetting about them may increase. 

It is not as simple to build with a coworker when you work remotely. Team members may not be as committed to establishing relationships with people they don’t see daily, thus leading to detachment among remote workers. 


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5. Performance and Trust

A large concern often cited by management in their hesitance to accept a remote work policy is the lack of regulation and oversight given to workers who are not in the office. When workers are not working in the same vicinity as management, the ability to visually check in on them isn’t there. Importantly, managers cannot see if employees are working when they say they are working. 

Due to this, performance measurement is harder to establish. When workers are visible at work, employers often assume they are working. Managers need to trust their employees to do the work allocated to them conveniently and effectively.

The trust factor has a great impact on the effectiveness and acceptance of remote work policies. It is fundamental to establish a culture of trust between management and remote workers.



Remote workforces are the future. Remote employees have the potential to greatly impact the institutions’ bottom line and will allow you to maintain a competitive advantage in the changing climate. To be most successful in implementing remote teams, you must carefully consider all of the benefits, but don’t overlook the challenges you are bound to face. 

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