The Virtual Workplace is Here

This post is the fourth in a series exploring topics discussed in Perspectives 2015, PDR’s workplace strategy leader-to-leader forum.

Gone are the days when the fastest technology was too expensive; now it is readily available to the masses, freeing employees from the confines of a desk and allowing them to instantly connect with colleagues, partners and customers. As technology becomes more integrated with the modern workplace, new challenges and opportunities face leaders and their teams.

In the non-physical workplace, teams are not required to be co-located, since interaction can happen anytime and anywhere. While this allows for more choice and control in work location, it can also present obstacles in building trust and relationships within a team. Therefore, maintaining a sense of community is paramount. The choice to allow employees to work in distributed teams and interact virtually must come with the intent to maintain the culture and human experiences that define your organization. Video conferencing allows virtual teammates see each other face-to-face, which creates strong human connections. To ensure a strong culture, provide continued employee feedback and recognize employee accomplishments.

The virtual workplace also changes how leaders measure team performance. Managers often ask the question “how will I know if they are working if I cannot see them?” In an environment that no longer mandates that employees be physically present, leaders need to adjust their methods of quantifying success. Apart from the quality of work produced, success of team interactions, innovation levels and employee engagement are better indicators of performance than hours present in the workplace. 

Attracting and retaining top talent is a constant challenge for all organizations. Companies with employees that work virtually are not restricted to the talent pool in their home cities; they have access to the best candidates across the globe. Equally appealing is the employee’s control over his or her own work-life balance. Offering employees the option to work where and when they choose is a sought-after perk of working for an organization with the right technology. This affords employees the opportunity to plan their days around their workload instead of operating hours.

Virtual collaboration, enabled by an increasing number of user-friendly platforms (e.g. Slack, Jive, GoogleDocs) benefits both employees and businesses. A recent Stanford University study found that telecommuting saved companies an average of $2000 per employee Stanford Business. It was also found that employees who worked remotely had higher productivity levels than those who regularly worked in the office. The success of the virtual workplace is dependent on the right tools, leadership and protocols. At PDR, laptops are standard issue and they are paired with policies and procedures that allow working from home as an option. PDR has helped countless clients move into a more seamless working environment that enables employees to work from anywhere in the building to anywhere in the city.

Are you a leader in your organization’s strategy for team effectiveness and innovation? Perspectives is a workplace strategy leader-to-leader forum, designed to spark a valuable exchange of ideas about the future of workplace strategy. Perspectives 2016 is set for August 31st and September 1st. The topic focus is Collegiate to Corporate: Workplace Insights from Learning Environments, and how we enable the next generation of problem solvers. 

I invite a deeper discussion with your organization. If you are interested in Perspectives, please contact

Christine Mikhail

Christine is a Senior Consultant at PDR who specializes in the early stages of a design project. As a member of our workplace performance team, Christine has guided several clients through the discovery phase of their projects. Christine excels at the intersection where culture and leadership meet. Her passion for design begins with understanding her clients’ vision for the future and translating that into a workplace that enables that vision.

Christine is a member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and is a leader in PDR’s Organizational Design’s  consulting practice that specializes in leadership alignment, coaching and organizational development