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The distributed work model is becoming a major workplace movement, both in the large and small business world. But what, exactly, is a distributed workforce? Why is it becoming such a popular work model? And, how do you manage a distributed workforce effectively?
In this new landscape of work, you want to make sure you’re empowering people to do their best work, no matter where that work happens.
Managing remote workers in a distributed environment
A distributed workforce is when multiple employees work from different locations. They might work from head office or home, a satellite office, co-working space, or out in the field. Some distributed teams embrace a hybrid model, where employees can work from different locations at different times. For example, they might want to work remotely from home a few days a week and the rest of the time from the corporate headquarters.
💡 Learn more about what a distributed team is and how it differs from remote teams.
With more companies moving towards a distributed workforce model, managers may soon find themselves managing employees in various locations for the first time. Here are some tips to get your distributed team collaborating effectively.
When employees aren’t working in the same place, it can be challenging for teams to build the trust they need to perform at the highest level. So it’s important to create opportunities to bring your distributed team together to help that trust develop. Schedule regular team-building events to help remote workers and in-person employees connect and build relationships.
Part of your role is to anticipate distributed team challenges and proactively offer solutions. Solving problems before they become overwhelming issues squashes short-term upsets and sets your team members up for long-term success.
Without regular team pulse-checks, managers can develop a false perception of what’s happening on the office floor—whether that’s virtually or not. A pulse survey tool like Officevibe can help you see the whole picture. By cluing into what your employees won’t tell you directly, Officevibe reveals what you’ve been missing.
For distributed teams to work well together, they need the right tools. Are tools and software an investment? Yes. But investing in tools for your distributed team helps them do their best work, regardless of where they’re working. This could mean communication tools, group training, collaborative software, a shared calendar.
The exact tools you’ll need to invest in will depend on your team and goals.
Pro tip: don’t just set up these tools and hope for the best. Schedule time for group or individual training for your team to learn how to use these tools effectively for their needs.
Being clear in your communication is always essential, but it’s especially so when you’re working with distributed teams. Communication can be more challenging thanks to time zone issues, internet trouble, and a lack of nonverbal indicators.
Lay the foundation for crystal clear communication between distributed team members by developing team communication principles.
As a manager, you always want to be treating each member of your team fairly and equally. And on a distributed team, that can become a bit more complex. You need to make sure every employee has the same access to experiences and opportunities – no matter where they’re working.
What’s the best source for insights into how to better manage your distributed team? Your employees, of course. The more feedback you get from your employees, the better you’ll be able to spot any issues before they turn into problems and take action where it really counts. Make sure you’re regularly touching base with all employees and asking for feedback on what’s working, what’s not working, and how you can better support them.
Ask for feedback in your one-on-one meetings, team meetings, and through employee feedback channels.
With Officevibe’s employee feedback tool, you can keep up with how people feel on an ongoing basis through weekly employee surveys with simple, digestible reports. Employees can share their feedback with you anytime, with an option for anonymity. And you can respond to them directly in the app, turning it into a two-way chat while employees stay anonymous (or not).
In addition to technology that’s made it possible for people living anywhere with internet access to collaborate on projects together, regardless of geographical boundaries, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to make a shift to fully remote operations. And now that offices are re-opening, many of these organizations are planning to keep some of that flexibility by adopting a hybrid model of distributed work. Why?
Employees want flexibility now that they’ve had a taste of the benefits of remote work over the last year.
And according to the Reimagining Human Experience study from JLL, 70% of employees favor a hybrid model that allows them to work both remotely and in-office.
To stay competitive and keep employee engagement high, many companies are choosing to offer more flexible remote work options.
When you have a distributed workforce, you’re not limited by geography, and potential hires have more flexibility for how they’ll do their work. Whether they live on the other side of town, the other side of the country, or the other side of the world, you won’t be limiting your hiring pool. Plus, barriers that might make office work challenging for some are removed, making you a more equal opportunity employer.
When a company doesn’t have to have office space for their entire staff, it helps to lower overhead costs. Organizations can use that extra budget to invest in initiatives that will move the company forward. And this is good news for managers, because it could mean more opportunities for developing a new product or hiring a new team member, for example.
The era of the distributed workforce is here, and it’s an exciting one. Managing a distributed team is undoubtedly a different experience from managing an entirely in-person or a fully remote team. Equipped with the right tools and informed with the best approaches, you’ll have everything you need to empower and engage your team—no matter the work location!
Check out Officevibe’s best practices for distributed teams to learn more on this topic.
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