Many of our clients are dealing with the challenges of managing the virtual workforce with colleagues spread out in different locations and multiple time zones. Since our inception 14 years ago, Strategic Partners has been managing a virtual workforce.
What follows are 10 strategies that we have adopted to help our virtual workforce enhance their level of personal productivity, employee satisfaction and connectiveness to the team:
- Engage Strategically. Make a point of connecting every day, not necessarily work-related with key employees. Make sure that you understand that you address personal and/or professional issues on a timely basis.
- Encourage teamwork. With remote employees it’s critical to not make them feel like second-class citizens and help remote workers feel like part of a team. Several ways that we have done this at Strategic Partners are having informal get-togethers, quarterly meetings, annual meetings, business team meetings, monthly emails, etc.
- Align expectations, clarify outcomes or Clarify outcomes, align expectations. This is normally important for any manager or leader. It is particularly relevant to managing remote workers so that they’re clear about what is relatively most important for them to be doing and help them in managing their day.
- Listen critically. In managing a remote workforce, what you need to listen to is not only what is said but what is not said and how things are said, both orally and in writing. One of the most effective tools that we use at Strategic Partners is a lesson from one of our colleague’s workshops on Exercising Influence is to check for understanding meaning that when you’re talking with people remotely, it’s even more important for both the provider of information and the receiver of information to make sure that the message has been clearly received.
- Leverage Technology. Sometimes it’s hard to believe how much technology has changed in 14 years. When I first started the business, we were sending information to some of our remote workers via fax modem. Obviously with cloud computing, webcasts, skype, video conferencing and conference call all provide valuable information to help break down some of the barriers in managing remote workers.
- Solicit feedback. When managing remote workers, it’s important to get feedback on how people are progressing on specific work assignments. We have found helpful to set specific milestones and to be clear regarding who’s going to do what by when so that there are no surprises, people have enough time and space to get their work done according to their schedule and to get the help they may need.
- Leverage lessons learned. We have learned from some of our partners and clients regarding what they’re doing to manage remote workers. I invite everyone to attend the lunch and learn that Diane Thielfoldt is facilitating Monday, March 21, from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. During this session, Diane will share:
- Challenges/barriers associated with teleworking
- Best practices from what other organizations are doing to meet the requirements of the Telework Act of 2011 and have found effective in managing a remote workforce
- Practical tips for addressing the challenges of a virtual workforce
- Encourage work-life effectiveness. These issues are relevant for all employees; however, are particularly relevant for a remote workforce.
- Provide organizational tips and tools. There are many tools that have been developed to help people manage their workspace more effectively.
- Share best practices. Contact other organizations to hear their specific challenges and what’s working and not working with their particular program; set up some process to allow their virtual workforce to share specific tools and processes.