Over the past several months we have experienced a transformation in our business. The transformation has been driven by the expansion of our work force beyond the walls of our corporate headquarters. While our customers are based in New Jersey, our team is now scattered around the globe. Managing a work force with remote employees is a challenging task for even the most experienced management team. Here are some of our findings for how to maintain employee engagement with remote employees.
I have never been a fan of meetings, but a regular cadence of meetings is critical to having a team jell and work together for common goals especially when team members are remote. We have both daily and weekly meeting cadences which get team members to interact to discuss problems we are facing with clients. The meetings focus on planning and collaboration to deliver services to our clients. All of the members have input in the meetings which gets the team to engage each other.
We work hard at having documented processes for virtually everything we do. By having good documented processes, remote workers have a guide for how to perform their duties, and we as managers have some gauges for how to assess the remote workers contribution to the team. A process is a living set of steps that defines how business data is transformed into action on the client’s behalf. We have invested hundreds of staff hours to develop well defined and effected processes that are documented in staff binders for each job role. Don’t attempt to have remote workers unless there are well defined business processes for the remote workers to follow.
Technology also plays an important role in how the remote team members interact within the team and with clients. Using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology, each team member has an extension on our phone system regardless of where they are located. Calling our support team member half way around the world is no different than dialing a team member across the hall. Using secure access technologies, we are able to allow all of our team member’s access to our systems, while maintaining our tight security. We utilize Microsoft Teams for chat based communications and team meetings providing any additional layer of communication between team members.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the generation that lives on their smartphones doesn’t have any conceptual problems with working remotely. As business owners, there is a lot of work necessary to provide the technology, process and structure to make the remote workers feel connected and contributing team members.
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