The movement to employ flexible workers is exploding around the globe.
The chance to get rid of geographic boundaries, and be able to hire talent from around the world is offering many benefits to companies.
Furthermore, saving on office space, equipment, electricity and benefits adds a financial reward, as well.
There are many advantages to having flexible workers, however, there are also barriers to this non-traditional working style, as reported by a 2009 survey by Workplace Flexibility, which we will explore in this article.
Abuse of Policies
Perhaps the biggest difficulty to not being in physical presence with your staff is the limitations of supervising them.
In turn, many managers are concerned that virtual employees may abuse corporate policies.
For example, if you head a publishing firm, how can you be certain that the pieces provided by your flexible team members are really written by them, and not by someone else?
Perhaps an individual is hiring another party to do the actual work, or even plagiarising it.
Although these situations can also occur in an actual office, the chances are reduced when bosses have daily contact and supervision of their staff.
Some freelancers will never have to interact with clients, such as IT personnel, who will only provide services to your and your staff.
However, many companies do require their flexible staff to communicate with customers.
This is evident by phoning calling centers of many corporations, such as credit card centers.
Upon dialing, clients are aware that they are speaking to an employee from another country, often noticeable by the accent or lack of proper English speaking-skills.
While some customers may not mind this, others do; which needs to be taken into consideration.
Loss of Productivity
You may hire an employee who should be working forty hour weeks, but if she is not coming into the office, how can you be sure that she is doing so?
Although individuals work at a different pace, and one person can accomplish 30% more than another in the same timeframe, not being able to physically see the employee at her desk is troublesome for many leaders.
Managers should consider what the efficiency baseline is for each individual, and then judge their performance against that.
It is important to weigh the potential benefits of having flexible workers against the possible disadvantages before making the decision to hire.
Head of Training and Development