More than ever, it's common for workforces to be distributed across many locations. Remote offices across the country are the norm, and having ancillary offices in another country is nothing unusual. Even employees in the same office as you are likely telecommuting at least a couple days a month. And no matter where your employees are located, they're probably checking emails and taking calls outside of work, at the very least.
Managing employees in the same building is never simple, but managing this distributed workforce can be a nightmare. Luckily, it isn't quite as tricky as it seems. If you're able to follow these best practices, your remote employees will be just as productive as anybody else:
Invest in the Right Technology
If you're trying to manage a distributed, mobile workforce, investing in the right technology is a must. You need to make sure that everybody stays in constant communication, making things like dedicated email, video conferencing, and instant messaging crucial. Your leaders need to reach out to their team as easily as they could walk to their desks. The teams need easy lines of communication to work alongside each other.
You'll also need tools that allow your teams to collaborate. This means applications like Office 365 that allow teams to work on documents at the same time and share them with anybody from around the world. You also need dedicated file storage in order to upload and access vital documents at any time.
Put Extra Effort into Team-Building
A workforce that doesn't interact with each other face-to-face every day can quickly become alienated. As a leader, it's your job to make sure that this doesn't happen. Make sure that your remote workers are treated exactly the same as the ones in your office. Go out of your way to include remote workers into the culture of your office.
Make sure to encourage your managers to build a rapport with their remote workers. Have them engage in small talk and set time aside in every meeting and conference call just to catch-up with them. Familiarity goes a long way to building camaraderie and feeling like part of a true team.
Having the right tools plays into all of your team-building efforts. Video conferencing tools make it easy for employees to put faces to their colleagues, even if they never step in the same room together. Powerful internal messaging and email tools will let your teams catch-up with each other as they complete their work throughout the day.
It's easy for remote workforces to put their heads down, get their work done, and forget about the overall goal. Even remote offices can have a hard time working together towards a unified goal. It's important to make sure your distributed workforce works together as often as possible. Not only does it improve efficiency and productivity, it also brings your mobile workforce together.
Using tools that allow your users to collaborate easily, like Office 365, is invaluable. Your office in Sweden will be able to work on a spreadsheet alongside your Philadelphia office, while sending instant messages back and forth. Video links will make meetings a snap. Pretty soon, your entire mobile workforce will be working towards the same goal, no matter where their desk is located.
Set Specific Expectations
Remote workers can be just as productive as any other worker, and they need to be accountable for that. Make sure that you set clear expectations on productivity, schedule, and anything else that's vital to the success of your business.
Proper guidance and constant feedback are the keys to keeping a mobile workforce accountable. Tracking tools are a great way to make sure everybody is doing what they need to, but your team will have to take it a step further in order to be truly successful. Your managers need to have a clear vision for every employee, with specific projects, deliverables, and metrics. Make sure they're constantly providing feedback, both positive and negative. It helps build a relationship and sets clear expectations at the same time.
If you need help finding the right tools to manage your distributed workforce, make sure to reach out to us here at Envision Consulting. We'll be happy to discuss how we can get your workers as efficient and productive as possible!