Managing an IT Department of Virtual Employees

Managing an IT department of virtual employees is much different compared to the management of a system with a traditional setting. Nowadays, many companies have their employees working remotely, and this is especially for employees working in the IT department. The only thing that brings them together and sorts them in a centralized system is Information Technology (Dakrory & Abdou, 2009). Therefore, IT becomes a crucial entity in such a system and without it, the particular organization is doomed to fail. In this paper, I will discuss on approaches in managing an IT department effectively.

Firstly, the most significant thing to note is that when dealing with employees that are brought together by technology, you have to consider aspects such as communication, productivity, hiring and the culture of an organization. Companies that fail to compensate for team members bumping into each other are mostly victims of failure (Willmore, 2000). They ignore the fact that employees live in their separate worlds, and so they end up ignoring that communication and collaboration are important.

To offer excellent IT management of the Human Resource department, a company has to establish good communication. Some of the strategies in doing that are having a chat room open constantly, choosing a good and favorable communication style, using tools for quick visual/video communication, using screen-sharing tools, collaboration on spreadsheets and documents and setting up a project management system (Aggarwal, 2002).

In businesses where a chatroom is always open, team members often leave messages for the team. As much as such chat rooms should be kept alive, they should not be distracting. Employees should be capable of discussing important issues and feel like they are connected to each other. Sometimes, however, employees do even have a chat room where they can engage in casual conversations that create a “water cooler” effect.

Also important to note, before official communication begins, and IT specialist has to decide which communication style is right for the team. Options include Email, chat programs, phone calls, video chat or even creating short videos (Roncelliet al., 2011). Even more, the communication can be strengthened by simple communication tools such as desktop screenshots, videos, screen sharing tools and jings. Also, documents and spreadsheets can be edited by many employees at the same time, and Google Drive offers the best service in this area.

A project management system also comes in handy when dealing with virtual employees (Tedesco, 2013). When fused with the benefits of information technology, it is possible to achieve the intended objectives. Project management systems help in organizing conversations and documents into projects which make it easier for retrieval.

The other essential field in managing an IT department of virtual employees is productivity. A firm without a system is doomed to fall apart eventually.  As opposed to a business run in an office, an IT run department cannot compensate for lacking a system. A virtual system simply entices a virtual employee to have their processes and procedures that do not necessarily mesh with how the organization was intended to work (Eom & Lee, 1999). Therefore, it is well to have a standardized and documented way of working that gets refined constantly.

In this, the department has to allow a degree of flexible work hours while at the same time considering consistency, tracking the work output, tracking the amount of hours worked plus other basic measure of productivity, organizing a system of overlapping times for communication between different time zones and doing a quarterly review to rate the employees.

While other aspects of hiring and organizational culture are a responsibility of the company’s human resource department, the IT department aids a lot in a virtual scenario. When working virtually in the IT field, extra effort is needed to sustain a feeling of commitment among the employees. It is the responsibility of the IT department to connect virtually the employees to achieve a common goal.

Considering that the department itself is composed of IT workers, it is critical when managing the workforce. The members are already acquainted with the latest trends, and the company has to employ strategies to outsmart employees who may go against the company’s protocol. One such strategy is endorsing performance management. In fact, performance management is always the uppermost concern for managers managing a team of virtual IT workers (Huang et al., 2010). In this subject, performance measurement is the key approach to success.

In conclusion, “virtual” should not be taken as a word that means “never meet.” Sometimes, it should be arranged so that the virtual team can meet in one central place apart from the internet. Lastly, check in more often to ensure that all employees understand what is going on.

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