How To Effectively Manage A Geographically Dispersed Workforce

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Are you starting out with your first remote workers? This is a great opportunity for your business to grow - but keep in mind the challenges you'll have to overcome!

Technology is contributing to changes in ways we work, and it facilitates the effectiveness of having remote workers. Businesses benefit significantly through a decrease in overhead and other expenses of having a traditional office. Remote workers are also more satisfied with their positions because they can maintain a better work-life balance, eliminate a stressful commute and work in a more comfortable environment.

The Challenges Of A Geographically Dispersed Team

There are challenges associated with having a dispersed team. Hiring and managing a remote team are processes that require a different approach. Employees also face their own challenges throughout their daily work experiences. A closer look at these issues is the first step toward overcoming the challenges.

#1 Choosing The Right Team Players

During the hiring process, employers typically need to take the extra step to ensure that applicants have the right traits for the job. Because of the nature of remote working, they need to be responsible as well as communicative. Remote workers need to be well-organized and self-starters. They should work well without constant supervision. Effective communication skills are essential. Completing the interview in segments may enable you to see the candidate’s abilities to communicate by phone, by video chat, and by email.

#2 Performance Tracking

Once you hire the right individuals for the job, the challenges associated with daily operations and management must be addressed. Managers must remain vigilant to ensure that workers are doing their jobs fully and accurately. Performance tracking software is a good call, but ensure that your employees are on board with it.
The prospect of micromanaging remote workers seems to be impossible, but frequent communication simply to check up on employees can be very disruptive to efficiency.

In fact, it can decrease their productivity and make them feel as though they are under a microscope. This creates unnecessary stress and can lead to high turnover. A better idea is to allow remote workers to complete projects on their own as long as they know the appropriate processes and can meet deadlines.

#3 Cybersecurity

Remote work is heavily reliant on technology, which opens up potential security risks. With many remote workers using personal devices to do their job, it’s your job to ensure they are doing it securely. There is a trend among the remote and regular workforce to BYOD – bring your own device – to work. This includes personal computers and mobile devices.

If these devices are not sufficiently secured as they would be in a traditional office environment, a risk of a data breach is high. Another potential risk is the use of public Wi-Fi from various coffee shops or public venues like the airport. Malevolent users connected to the same public Wi-Fi can easily hack into their devices and see what your workers may be doing.

Educating your team about the dangers of online security threats is critical. You should also set standards and guidelines related to cybersecurity so that your remote workers know the steps that they are expected to take. For example, you may only permit files to be shared using the company’s preferred collaboration or cloud-based solutions.

#4 Using The Right Tools For The Job

When you manage a remote workforce, you will need to implement technological solutions that have enabled this type of work experience. For example, finding an efferent way to emulate office communication. Time zone differences and distance often makes this part tricky. However, there are numerous communication tools and chat programs that can be used – Skype and Slack being on the forefront when it comes to video conferences and dedicated chat rooms.

Working on the same data and files is also another hurdle to overcome. Cloud-based solutions and suites help by enabling remote teams to collaborate and work together as if they were right next to each other. For instance, Office 365, offers everything – from collaboration, calendars, even chat rooms and file sharing via OneDrive, that allows team members to be efficient.

#5 Staying A Team While Being Dispersed

Creating a team environment that really feels like that is difficult when having a workforce that is distributed in different towns, countries, or even continents. You need to find an effective way to incorporate team values and instill them into your workforce when they are not bound by the same geographic location.

Group interaction and non-work social events held online can help your team to build camaraderie. You may even create a virtual water cooler, which can replace the typical casual chit-chat that employees in a traditional office environment may benefit from.

You can schedule team building events online, or opt to finance an annual meetup. Bring your workers together, such as for an in-person team building weekend. You can also invite remote workers to visit your office location periodically so that they can get a better feel for the company’s values, expectations and more. It can be expensive to fly your team members to your location but consider taking this step once or twice per year. Bring the entire remote team together at one time.

These are just some of the challenges that must be addressed head-on when you hire and manage members for your remote workforce. Management should have a clear understanding of the most common challenges and how to tackle those issues before they become problematic. Using modern technology and the right managerial approach, you can successfully benefit from a remote workforce.



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