The working landscape has changed dramatically post-pandemic. Here’s how to manage and grow your scattered workforce and get the best out of your people.
Over the last decade, the working landscape has changed dramatically. The dawn of the digital age led to a huge shift towards internet-based business and marketing models. What began as a simple way to reach more people developed into cloud-based storage. From there, it naturally progressed to working remotely using online resources.
The pandemic has only amplified this colossal shift, taking full advantage of cloud architecture, telecommuting, and smartphones to create a fully mobile, remote workforce. The result? Teams aren’t always in the same place. In fact, many companies now have a scattered workforce, with individuals in locations across the country and - in some cases - around the globe.
Keeping everything together and working smoothly when you have people in multiple locations is no easy feat. Here’s how to manage and grow your scattered workforce, and ensure you’re getting the best out of your people, wherever they are.
The Importance of Staying Connected
The modern business is required to offer a competitive service or superior product. That’s now a given. We all know we have to compete. But the modern consumer has increasingly high expectations of companies when it comes to their level of technological prowess and adaptability.
In fact, the Walker study conducted at the end of 2020 found that customer experience is poised to overtake both product and price and as the core brand differentiator.
Nobody is phased by the fact that you have a team of remote workers these days. What they will not tolerate, however, is any form of disconnect in their experience with your company as a result of the remote nature of your team.
But it’s not only your customers who require this level of connectivity. Your team needs it also. They want the ability to #WorkFromWherever and they expect a working environment that enables them to do so while still functioning at a high level.
You should ensure that working remotely doesn't result in a loss of social status as part of the collective, or any diminishment in their professional status, in terms of deliverables. Putting the right communication tools in place to ensure seamless connectivity – both internally and externally – is essential to growing and managing a scattered team.
Ensure you have the right cloud-based system to provide easy sign-in and a fast, smooth means of communication and collaboration for everyone.
Find the Right Tools for the ‘Real’ World
Yes, connection and collaboration are essential. Having the right tools at your disposal is equally important, with ease of use and accessibility paramount to the savvy remote worker. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, employees are most likely to cite communication, remote working and collaboration tools as prerequisites for efficiency.
Whatever your team is doing, and whatever tools they require to do it, finding a solution that seamlessly integrates everything is vital. This can often be a complicated affair, with multiple people using numerous systems, each with a different function and goal.
The important thing is to find a system that works for everyone. Where this isn't possible, ensure that the various components that your team needs have a means of integrating seamlessly.
Streamline Your Processes
All that being said, there’s a thin line between failing to meet your team’s requirements, and overwhelming them with processes and systems that are complex and time-consuming. There is also the very real risk of information overload.
Our connectivity and access to information have only increased over the years, as has the potential for overwhelm. Look at how you can streamline your processes as much as possible.
Your employees may complain that they don’t have the tools needed to complete their work. This is nothing, however, compared to the confusion and frustration of having so many systems they can’t keep up with.
Too much tech can be genuinely paralyzing. The more you add, the less you can reap the rewards of a centralized and effective business-wide system of collaboration.
And that should be the name of the game.
Less Is Definitely More
Prioritizing isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Sure, the gurus will tell you to find your three MITs (Most Important Tasks) each day, and that by focusing on these everything will magically fall into place. But in reality, a busy company frequently has more than three things that are essential to do over the course of an entire day. Likewise, some tasks are so time-consuming there’s no way to complete three in a week, let alone nine hours.
The true trick to prioritizing isn’t in how many tasks you complete or how many to-do lists you write. It’s more about choosing one thing and giving it your full attention until it’s complete. Instead of having four or five things on the go at once, get your team in the habit of giving their all to a single task, completing it and then moving on to the next.
When collaborating, the biggest hindrance isn’t the productivity of the individual, but the collective effectiveness of the team. If you have four different people hounding you for different things, you’re naturally going to try and get them done all at once.
As with everything, effective communication of who is doing what, and when everyone can expect to have the various components of work they need, is essential.
Meetings: Use Them or Lose Them
All this talk of communication and connectivity naturally lends itself to the conclusion that meetings are the answer. Meetings will allow everyone to keep in touch, update each other and find out the status of everyone else’s tasks so they can better plan their own.
The problem with this is that, far from ensuring effortless communication, it generally proves to be a massive waste of time. The larger your team, the truer this becomes. Over 35% of employees waste up to 5 hours each day on meetings or phone calls that don't achieve anything. Meanwhile, 67% of employees cite spending so much time in meetings as a hindrance to their productivity.
Meetings have their place. Yet you'll find everyone is far more productive and – oddly – far better connected if you have an effective communication system in place instead. One that allows for ongoing communication between individuals on demand, rather than trying to force everyone to talk to everyone all at once.
The growth and development of a scattered team is a constantly evolving process. You will need to add new team members to the mix. The roles of existing employees will shift and change. Flexibility and an open-minded approach to new technologies and ways of working will help you immensely.
Should you need further help or advice, our own team is always on hand to provide guidance on the best ways of finding and adding new people to your growing team of remote workers.