The following post, written by Ranjit Singh (founder of the Indian-based RV Technologies), is the first in an ongoing series to provide you with additional perspective into the virtual workforce.
Virtual workplaces like oDesk and Elance continue to revolutionize the way people conduct business. I recently read a study by Forrester Research that stated approximately 63 million Americans will be working remotely by 2016. On the same note, many companies are also leveraging these technologies to find talent from different parts of the world (for example, to work with my company). There’s no doubt that the virtual space is the place to be. Working with global teams, however, can pose various challenges (time zones, language barriers, cultural differences, etc). In this article, I’ll share my story of how our Indian-based firm overcame these barriers and found success in the virtual world.
Overcoming Our Barriers
Initially, when we (RV Technologies) started working virtually, there were many obstacles standing in our way. First, there was the fear of failure. The concept of working “virtually” was new to us, and we had no idea how the work environment would be. The second barrier we had to overcome was communication. How could we effectively convey our message to people of different cultures and backgrounds? While India does have one of the largest English-speaking populations, cultural and time differences often present unique challenges when working with global partners. Gradually, we started to learn the system. While the time differences meant that we would have to work various schedules (sometimes even night shifts), we knew that in order to be successful we would have to adapt and overcome. By utilizing tools like Skype, GoogleTalk, and other IM platforms, communicating with our clients became much easier.
While the ability to work virtually give us much flexibility in the way we work, success doesn’t just happen overnight. Rather, it takes a lot of hard work and commitment. To make things run smooth for everyone involved, it’s necessary to set up predefined rules and expectations for individual team members.
Our Secrets to “Virtual” Success
In our experience, someone desiring to join the virtual workplace should meet the following basic criteria:
- familiar and comfortable using communication technology
- an independent worker – can see projects through to completion with little oversight
- willing to work around time differences, even if it means odd shifts
- able to set clear, measurable, and achievable goals
- a good communicator
- respectful of other cultures
Now, I’m pleased to say we have more than 5 yrs and more than 1,000 successful virtual assignments under our belts. Our clients have been very cooperative and supportive throughout the completion of our assignments. We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to oDesk, which has provided us with such a great platform where we can work online without any hurdles.