Being the founder of the modern virtual organization management discipline, and probably the world's most ardent advocate of working in a virtual [organization] environment and related benefits, I know what I am about to say will shock the hell out of most, if not everybody, however, it needs to be said.
I recently read a VatorNews article by Steven Loeb about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to cancel its remote workforce experiment. I totally agree with Marissa Mayer for telling remote employees to come back into the brick and mortar fold for one and only one reason: Only virtual organizations should have a virtual workforce, otherwise, the only result you will get out of a virtual workforce is Virtual Chaos. Yahoo is definitely NOT a "virtual organization" and Marissa recognizes that very fact, plain and simple. Neither are any of its business units, departments, groups, divisions or subsidiaries.
That is not to say that she cannot setup virtual [organization] business units, departments, groups, divisions or subsidiaries to accommodate a virtual workforce. It's just that it takes a significant amount of time and education to do it properly. Please note my emphasis on the word "organization" since there is a big difference between virtual and virtual organization. All that means is that, for now, it's not high up on her list of priorities, which is understandable.
Why is that, you might ask? That is because having a virtual workforce not only requires but also dictates that you have the right virtual organization infrastructure in place, just as a brick and mortar workforce dictates that you have the right brick and mortar infrastructure in place - the ones that we are all accustomed to. Mixing the two of them is a deadly combination which should be avoided at all costs. It's like mixing chemicals that are bound to explode when combined.
Understanding the difference between these two infrastructures and the need to keep them apart is something that 99.99% of corporate executives worldwide are completely oblivious to. Unfortunately, they seem to be clueless about the "virtual organization infrastructure" concept itself, let alone what its architecture should consist of. The same can also be said for understanding the difference between "virtual" and "virtual organization."
For most, gaining access to the internet, making use of virtual collaboration tools, and having a few internal corporate procedures in place for their remote workforce is thought of having in place a virtual organization infrastructure. Some will even tell you that they consider their company a "virtual organization" since some of their employees work from home or it employs a remote workforce in certain locations.
However, that being said, there is no need to despair. The solutions for putting in place a virtual organization, a virtual organization infrastructure, virtual organization candidate assessment, certification and recruitment, and virtual organization management education are and have been made available by Virtual Organization Management Institute et al to every single organization anywhere in the world since 2007. Absent these solutions, it is wise to stay away from a virtual workforce.
About Author: Pierre Coupet is the founder of Virtual Organization Management Institute (VOMI), VOMI Virtual Organization Academy , and Virtual Organization Recruiter; and is also the founder of the modern virtual organization management discipline pioneered since 1997.