There is an escalating trend for companies to have teams and individuals working in different locations and time zones. As this global workforce intensifies, more and more business owners will be faced with the challenges that a dispersed workforce presents.
The most common issues we have seen arise include:
- Managing people in different locations
- Aligning the way dispersed teams create and follow processes
- Building a synchronised company culture
- Making sure team members don’t have road-blocks for communication
Management and leadership teams need to acknowledge that moving away from tacit work practices can be a huge adjustment for staff who are used to doing things “their way” or trusting solely the information that is in their heads.
That doesn’t work when a team is dispersed. As a company grows and staff begin to rely on the support of team members in other locations, information that is only in peoples’ heads is no good to anyone.
The need for process becomes critical for the success of dispersed teams. It’s fairly easy to work in a fluid manner when a team is small and all located in one office. Over time staff learn intuitively what precedes and follows a particular step in a process.
The same sort of fluidity is much harder to achieve when teams are working in different locations. It takes discipline as a company to ensure everyone understands their responsibilities in the large web of a company’s processes. It also takes discipline to change the way everyone works.
It’s not just what people do but how they interact that needs to be considered. This should be a huge focus for any business with more than one office. It’s quite natural for team cultures to form organically, office by office, whether they are in the same country or half way around the globe. How does a leadership team grow these cultural subsets so that they are aligned with each other and the overall company direction?
There is no magic bullet here as each company is striving for something unique to them. What matters is actually having a vision for the overall culture of the company; that the vision is communicated, that hires (or fires) are aligned with that vision, that techniques employed to grow the culture are replicated across all locations. If management approach the way they view or treat teams with disparity, staff will feel this keenly and react to it adversely.
Communication is a burning issue for most organisations. If it is a problem in a single office, it’s going to be a nightmare in a distributed team. Management need to get across this as quickly as possible and create environments that foster effective team communication.
Conferencing facilities, webcams at every desk, decent internet connections, making sure that the team members meet in person so that they feel they really know each other – do what it takes to get your team talking. Get your meeting rhythms going; the morning huddle is a much hyped but truly effective method for helping teams to sync each morning.
We have at our disposal more technology tools than ever before to help solve these business problems, but investment and strategy need to be aligned. Leadership teams need to formulate a strategy that employs technology so that change is successfully adopted.
If you are looking to expand your current reach and employ a dispersed team, Freshmethod can help. To find out more, call 1300 766 554 to speak to one of our consultants today.
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