“Today, the primary driver for many organizations adopting mobility strategies is cost reduction driven by a shrinking real estate portfolio. As the implementation team launches, if they have not done their homework and properly prepared their mid-level managers on how to successfully lead a distributed team, their program could hit a wall.
In the past, managers picked up a tremendous amount of ‘visual queuing’ when their teams were office-based. They were able to ‘see,’ quickly and subconsciously, how their team was doing, what they were working on and who was connecting with who. When visual queuing is no longer available, a manager may feel vulnerable and frustrated.
In addition, if individual employees sense their manager has not cultivated these skills and doesn’t feel secure, they too may resist a mobility program–especially in today’s economy. On the flip side, when a manager has honed the necessary skills and continually demonstrates best practices, employees will begin to thrive in the virtual workplace by developing their own skills and their engagement and productivity will soar.”
That insight is from Kate North, Vice President of Global Business Development from “e-work.com”. With the growing trend in companies of all kinds towards the use of remote workforces, many of the innate problems and difficulties have already been tackled. Useful strategies have emerged. Some management procedures have been shown in practice to be superior to others: this article is intended to outline some of those successful practices.
7 Proven Practices for Remote Workforce Managers
1. Clear Strategy is Essential
First and foremost, the program must be handled strategically if it is going to succeed. It is formal, with explicit rules and the shift in the working environment is sponsored by senior management. Everyone understands why the program has been implemented and how a remote workforce will fit in with the company goals.. It can be easy to let a remote workforce program deteriorate into a haphazard mess. Often managers only react to the diminishing productivity once they have actually seen its negative effects. It is better to be proactive and address potential problems before they become problems. Have rules, guidelines or policies in place for your workers.
2. Proper Training is also Essential
Training programs should not only include the individual workers, but also the managers of remote workers. Managing a remote workforce is very different than managing a localized workforce, so don’t expect managers to take to it instantly or without proper training.
3. Plan Ahead
Success depends on thoughtful planning and bold, decisive implementation. Distributed work programs, to succeed, require more than just redesigned facilities and freedom for employees to roam about the country. They almost always include significant organizational and cultural change.
4. Set Obligatory Core Working Hours
Telecommuting isn’t a synonym for slacking off. Set a time period when everybody has to work, or at least be available to other team members. The way to track this is with All Hours online time and attendance software. It enables managers to set custom rules and track attendance in real-time.
5. Get Rid of your Paper
Committing to digital information flow and storage is the single most important thing you can do to enable efficient distribution of work. Workers can be much more mobile when they don’t have to access physical documents. The real magic of centrally stored digital information is that, once it’s online, it can be accessed and processed from almost anywhere. The majority of organizations already have formal “document retention”policies and they just need to learn to use them.
6. Acquaint Workers with their New Tools
Give employees time to learn how to use new collaborative technologies before they are expected to integrate them into their day-to-day work. To truly understand how to use a piece of software routinely and efficiently requires much more than a simple orientation to a new version of a program. Give the new tool to the team and let them experiment with it. Once they can experiment with it casually, they can easily get real work done with it formally.
7. Develop Personal Disciplinein Workers
Remote workers won’t have a physically-present manager breathing down their necks all day long. But if they develop a strong, self-directed personal discipline, this can actually heighten their productivity. Knowing when to put their head down and plow through a project, when to ease off and take a break to clear their minds, can turn each employee into a creative, self-sufficient dynamo. But self-discipline is the key that unlocks their productivity.
Following the above practices will ensure maximal productivity for any remote workforce. There are obviously a lot of natural benefits to a remote, rather than centralized, workforce—or we wouldn’t be seeing such a trend towards utilizing the remote workforce. The inherent difficulties in management associated with making such a fundamental transition to a new employee setup are not insignificant, but they are workable. Increases in worker productivity, decreased real-estate portfolio, reduced company carbon-footprint, can certainly make up for the effort involved in making the change.