Keeping your team Productive. Even Across Borders

Blog located in Leadership posted on October 2, 2014

Employees spread across multiple offices results in a number of challenges, such as communication, culture alignment, compliance with employment legislation, team building…just to name a few.

There are a few strategies you can implement.

Make Use of Available Technology

This is not only good for technology consulting companies. It’s good for all businesses having to deal with a widespread workforce. No need to have huge technology infrastructure either. You need to be creative. To keep people working together on a project, hold your meetings online. Being able to share screens is valuable and stimulates in-person responsiveness. It also gets your employees to know each other. Allow your employees to use instant messaging (IM). It’s an efficient way to ask a question and get immediate feedback. Conduct conference calls. They are usually shorter and more to the point than a meeting in person, where members of the group are bound to do more small talk.

Availability

Good remote communication requires extra effort. You need to go out of your way to address issues that would come up naturally and spontaneously if you all worked in one place. When your employees are spread across a number of time zones, they need to feel comfortable calling you at odd hours — even if it’s dinner hour. Beyond the guidance or answers you can provide, which allows them to move forward with their work, your availability shows support, which helps strengthen your relationships with everyone. That said, establish reasonable guidelines about when to call.

Informal Employee Voice

Develop ways to communicate employee-related information. Such as birthdays, weddings, newborns, work anniversaries. Publish a monthly (or quarterly) newsletter. Ask employees to write stories about who they are and what they do when they are not working. Add pictures of employees in and out of the office. Share the rewards on the newsletter. If there are disappointments, share those too. If you expect high performance, your team deserves to know where the company stands. Be honest and transparent. 

Hold Contests

Give a shout out to someone on a conference call or online meeting for what she has accomplished. Run contests or internal games and keep track of the results on a leaderboard in iCloud that everyone can see. Tangible awards that don’t break the bank can work too. Try things like dinner, trophies, spa services, and plaques.  There is one caveat to achieving better results amongst employees working across distance.  A remote set-up won’t work unless your employees are motivated and running in sync — collaborating, asking each other for help, sharing ideas. That energy has to start with you. If you’re annoyed every time an IM breaks your train of thought or you’re not good about remembering to check in with people, running remote teams probably isn’t for you.You need to make sure you’re up to the task of managing remotely.

 

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[C1]Best option: There is one caveat to having employees working across great distances.

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