Reap the Rewards of Launching a Virtual Workforce in 2012 – Cheetah Learning Tells How

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The Project Management Professionals (PMPs) at Cheetah Learning (http://www.CheetahLearning.com) have more than a dozen years of real-world experience succeeding in a virtual environment. Now they’re sharing their secrets of how to reap the rewards of a virtual workforce by offering “The Virtue of Working Virtually,” a new free downloadable 10-step guide.

In a world of iPads, Smart Phones, FaceTime and Skype, virtual reality is the new norm. The question is: “What’s the secret to dealing with it effectively?” That’s a question the Project Management Professionals (PMPs) at Cheetah Learning (http://www.CheetahLearning.com) are happy to answer. Based on 12-plus years developing high-function, virtual project teams, Cheetah Learning is now sharing its secrets in a new free 10-step downloadable guide that reveals “The Virtue of Working Virtually.”

Is working virtually worth the effort?

Verizon Conferencing commissioned a study of meeting trends; among their findings: "A five-person meeting conducted in-person (involving plane travel for four of the attendees) is over seven times more expensive than a meeting conducted by audio-conference, and nearly three times as expensive as a video-conference."

“Once the tools that are right for your organization are in place, the biggest barriers are often around communications and work culture,” explains Michelle LaBrosse, CEO and founder of Cheetah Learning. “Virtual velocity can be hampered without the right tools and ground rules that can increase your team’s productivity, and let you reap the rewards of the virtual workforce.”

Below are Cheetah Learning’s “Ground Rules for Virtual Velocity.” An expanded version, titled “The Virtue of Working Virtually,” is available as a free download at http://Blog.CheetahLearning.com.

Build Trust in Person and Grow That Trust With Clear Expectations – In order for people to work effectively virtually, there has to be trust. Trust doesn’t happen magically. It’s built and then continues to grow with clear expectations consistently set by leaders and met by the team.

Hire People Who Work Well Virtually – Self-starters are the best in a virtual environment. People who love what they’re doing work well virtually. It’s difficult to keep anyone engaged when they don’t have passion for what they’re doing.

Make Flexibility Work for You – A big part of compensation can be the ability to work wherever and whenever you want. This means employees work when they’re in their own, most productive hours.

Manage Results, Not Activity – In the physical office environment, “busy work” gets mistaken for real work. In the virtual environment, the key is to manage results. Set expectations and monitor the results, not the daily activities.

Schedule Regular Communication – It’s important that there’s a time for reporting both progress and potential pitfalls to the team. This keeps people on track and gives everyone the discipline of a check-in.

Create Communication That Saves Time, Not Kills It – Does your team spend hours trying to solve an issue via email that could have been solved with a 30-minute conference call? Ask yourself: “How can I make my team’s email communication even more productive?”

Create Standards That Build a Cohesive Culture – What are your standards of quality? How do you define excellence? What does your brand mean to each employee? Make sure everyone knows the answers to those questions.

Rules of Responsiveness – When people work remotely, it’s important to define the rules of responsiveness. How quickly are people expected to return an email, an Instant Message or a phone call? What’s the protocol when people are out of the office or on vacation?

Make Sure There’s a Real System Under the Virtual Hood – Working virtually is about creating systems that enable people to work from anywhere and everywhere. There has to be a commitment to giving people the tools they need.

Embrace the New Water Cooler – The virtual world has become the new water cooler, even in physical locations. Why? Because everyone is communicating via email and IM chat. Email, IM, conference calls, and webinars are key to staying connected.

“Working virtually is not rocket-science, but it does require new rules for our workforce,” says LaBrosse, Cheetah’s CEO. “These tips are a good starting point for your team as you build your own best practices for effective Project Management in the virtual world. Enjoy the journey and invite your team to help you create a powerful work culture.”

Cheetah offers a variety of Tips, Tools and Deals at http://www.CheetahLearning.com. They include PMP Exam Prep SmartStart Guide, PMP Practice Exam, 2 PDU Skills Assessment Course, and the Getting Started with PM Guide, along with great deals on Professional Development Units (PDUs). For more information, call (888) 659-2013. Outside the U.S., call (602) 220-1263.

ABOUT: Cheetah Learning is a Project Management Institute Registered Education Provider and is International Association of Continuing Education and Training Certified. Cheetah was awarded the Project Management Institute Professional Development Provider of the Year for 2008 for the significant contribution it made to the field of project management with its accelerated approach to teaching and doing project management.

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