Complete Guide to Distributed Workforce Management - theEMPLOYEEapp

Complete Guide to Distributed Workforce Management

Complete Guide to Distributed Workforce Management

The way we collaborate and conduct business is becoming more complex. With the rise of more hybrid and remote work, more companies are finding themselves focused on distributed workforce management. In a distributed workforce, employees are located in different geographical locations, such as remote workers, satellite offices, or global teams.

In this blog, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about managing a distributed workforce.

What is Distributed Workforce Management?

Distributed workforce management refers to the practices and strategies employed by companies to effectively employ and oversee a geographically dispersed workforce. 

Managing a distributed workforce involves implementing processes, tools, and policies that enable seamless digital collaboration, communication, and productivity. This includes a lot of intentional internal communication to establish clear expectations, and sponsorship from executive leaders to provide the right resources and technology.

Let’s consider a technology company that has a distributed workforce consisting of remote employees and office staff based in different cities around the world.

This company follows a clear strategy to manage their distributed workforce and their unique needs. This includes:

  • A comprehensive remote work policy that outlines expectations, guidelines, and communication protocols for remote employees. 
  • Auditing tools and surveying employees to ensure they are providing their staff with the technology they need to collaborate digitally and do their jobs efficiently.
  • Project management tools facilitate real-time collaboration and task management to stay on track and work towards common goals.
  • A robust executive communication strategy to ensure all employees are aware of high-level decision-making and business updates.
  • Regular (but not mandatory) informal meetings and team-building events to provide opportunities for employees to engage with each other and develop professionally.

Through these practices, this company can effectively manage its distributed workforce, enabling collaboration, high productivity, and ensuring that employees feel connected and supported, despite working separately.

flat art illustration of the Earth with three employees around it

Distributed Workforce Management Goals

Creating a distributed workforce management strategy requires you to outline the program’s goals. What is it that you need to accomplish, but also what kind of culture and environment do you want to create? All this should go into your management plan.

But you might consider the following objectives:

  • Seamless collaboration. One of the primary goals of distributed workforce management should be to facilitate strong collaboration. To do this, you need the right tech stack, but you also need to foster an environment where employees feel like their voices matter. This enables more knowledge sharing, innovative brainstorming, and inclusivity.
  • Productivity and operational efficiency. You don’t want to miss a beat on productivity just because employees don’t work side-by-side. This can be achieved by giving employees the right resources, technology, and support. But it’s also critical to set clear expectations, define goals and milestones, and implement performance measurement mechanisms to track progress.
  • Increased employee engagement. Engaging and supporting employees is crucial in a distributed workforce because it limits churn. This includes providing development opportunities, regular feedback, recognition, and a supportive environment.
  • Effective communication. Communication is vital to distributed workforce management—between employees and top-down messages. The goal is to keep employees informed, connected, and aligned with the company’s objectives. To do that, establish effective communication channels and practices that ensure timely and transparent information sharing. 
  • Cybersecurity. With a distributed workforce, ensuring data security and compliance is critical. Companies should implement robust cybersecurity measures, provide remote employees with secure access to company systems and data, and educate the workforce about data protection practices.
  • High sense of belonging. Nurturing a culture of belonging is essential, especially when employees work separately (in satellite offices) or in isolation (as remote workers). Focusing on belonging will automatically help your culture feel more unified and inclusive.


3 Tips for Promoting Effective Teamwork in a Distributed Working Environment

It’s no surprise that strong teamwork is key to business success regardless of what kind of workforce you support. Try these three impactful tips for promoting a culture of teamwork in a distributed environment.

1. Foster a strong virtual culture.

You don’t need to be under one roof to have an amazing collaborative and welcoming work environment. But it does require some effort! Here are some ways to achieve it:

  • Create a virtual “water cooler.” In a physical office, employees often gather in shared spaces  to have casual conversations and build relationships. But you can recreate this social interaction virtually. Encourage the use of chat channels or virtual hangout spaces for informal conversations to build rapport. For example, you could create a dedicated channel for non-work-related topics like hobbies, movies, or book recommendations. You could also organize virtual coffee breaks or “lunch and learn” sessions where employees can join in for casual conversations and knowledge-sharing.
  • Implement virtual team-building. Team-building exercises play a vital role in distributed workforce management as a way to foster teamwork, trust, and collaboration. Many companies focus a lot on how “fun” these activities are. But the primary goal is to facilitate stronger problem solving, so focus on fun exercises that help your teams work better together.
  • Recognize achievements. Celebrating employee achievements is vital for maintaining motivation and a sense of accomplishment in a distributed working environment. Implement a system for recognizing and appreciating the efforts and achievements of remote team members. Consider creating a dedicated campaign where employees can publicly acknowledge and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. Additionally, periodic virtual all-hands meetings can be used to publicly recognize employees and teams.

2. Choose the right tools.

The wrong technology can actually hamper teamwork in a distributed working environment. It’s critical to choose solutions that will remove roadblocks and help teams collaborate. 

  • Create a technology governance framework. When teams are dispersed it can be common for some teams to go rogue when choosing software. That leads to one group of employees using one software and another group using a similar product. You need to create a technology strategy and explain to employees why you are using the tools that you are. But remember, if you don’t provide employees with the technology they need, they will seek out their own solutions.
  • Embrace digital platforms. Distributed workforce management is impossible without digital tools. Research and invest in the right communication, project management, and collaboration tools for your business. 

3. Lead by example.

We firmly believe that every initiative and best practice that you want to see lived at your company has to start at the top. Executive leaders play a critical role in setting the tone for teamwork and collaboration at any company. Senior leaders must lead by example and actively demonstrate the values and behaviors that promote teamwork and collaboration. Here’s how:

  • Leaders must be visible. Executives have to be visible to their employees. Often, the C-Suite stomps around the company headquarters and forgets that satellite offices, remote employees, and frontline teams don’t see them as often. That’s why leaders should actively participate in virtual meetings, demonstrating their commitment to collaboration and teamwork.
  • Executives have to use the tools. Your executive team has to lead by example in using new tools and systems. They have to be out there communicating the why behind changes and showing how these solutions can help everyone’s productivity.
  • Open and transparent executive communication. If leaders aren’t making an effort to ensure that all employees, regardless of work location, are informed and included in company communication, how can you expect other employees to follow communication best practices?
  • Reward teamwork. Acknowledge and appreciate team members who consistently demonstrate effective teamwork. Executive leadership should publicly recognize these employees to encourage others to engage in similar behavior.

grid with images of employees to represent what you would see on a video conference call

9 Tips to Manage a Distributed Workforce Effectively

  • Hire the right people. Everything about distributed workforce management starts with who you hire. Find people who are willing to make the effort to collaborate virtually and get to know their teammates.
  • Set clear goals and expectations. Teams without goals tend to be aimless. Especially when teams are disparate from each other, you must align your teams around a common purpose so they all row in the same direction.
  • Provide the right communication channels. A distributed workforce is often a more diverse workforce. This is a great thing, but it also means that you need to offer more variety. Remote teams might love Slack. Office staff might love the intranet. Frontline teams might love your employee app. Gen Z might prefer texting. Invest in a diverse channel mix to meet employees where they are.
  • Encourage regular check-ins. Have managers schedule regular meetings with their direct reports to discuss progress, address challenges, provide guidance, and offer support.
  • Focus on trust. Trust is essential in a distributed workforce. Without trust, employees are less likely to delegate, ask for help, and believe in the company mission.
  • Enable knowledge sharing. Encourage employees to share best practices, lessons learned, and innovative ideas. This helps with professional development but also creates social connections outside of day-to-day operations.
  • Provide opportunities for social interaction. We’ve already talked about needing a virtual, but informal, space for team-building and fostering a sense of camaraderie.
  • Train your teams. Not everyone is as tech savvy as others. Some managers might struggle to manage a disparate team. You have to find the pain points in your company and train your employees to overcome them.
  • Gather feedback. Surveying employees is critical. Actively listen to feedback and make changes based on it. This not only removes barriers but also shows employees they’re valued.

flat art illustration of a computer with lines connecting it to icons of employees to represent managing a distributed workforce

Connect Your Distributed Workforce Today

Are you ready to tackle your distributed workforce management strategy? theEMPLOYEEapp is a great solution to help you with strengthening employee communication.

We know that having a diverse channel mix is key for reaching employees where they are and appealing to multiple generations. That’s why our platform lets companies manage texting, a communication app, and an intranet all from one content management system.

Interested in seeing it in action? Request a demo today.



Subscribe To The theEMPLOYEEapp Newsletter

Recommended Resources

Comments are closed.