Last updated on July 5, 2023 at 01:13 pm
Most companies are distributed in some form or another. But we don’t always operate in the most effective ways given how spread out we are. Which means we’re leaving a lot on the table. That’s why, we want to share our top six distributed workforce best practices to make sure you’re getting the most out of your teams, and they’re getting the most out of their jobs.
Why Your Distributed Workforce Matters
You might think that everything at your company is operating smoothly. But have you done some digging to uncover barriers or improvements that would help you take your business to the next level?
Odds are, there’s something that could be better.
And the reality is, certain parts of your workforce might feel more positively about how everything is operating than others. It’s important to hone in on which segments of your workforce need more support.
For example, deskbound workers, especially those who come into a traditional office, get the most perks, technology, and support. But what about your frontline employees if you have them? What about the employees who work fully or partly remote? What about your satellite offices?
Once you realize that you have a very diverse employee base, you’ll realize that one strategy doesn’t fit all. The distributed workforce best practices we’ll share in this blog will help you cater your existing strategy to a dispersed population.
Let’s dive in.
Our Distributed Workforce Best Practices
By incorporating these best practices into your distributed workforce management strategy, you can create a more engaging and inclusive work environment. Remember that for this advice to work, you have to consider the unique needs of each segment of your workforce.
If you aren’t sure how to do that, we have a great tool called an Empathy Map that you can use. Download your free copy here 👇
1. Encourage Individuality
When employees work both remotely and from various on-site locations, personalization plays a crucial role in fostering a sense of ownership, creativity, and connection.
While personalizing physical workspaces is a common practice, it’s equally important to extend this concept to communication channels, problem-solving approaches, and innovation. Let’s explore how encouraging personalization in these areas can unlock the full potential of your distributed team.
- Personalize workspaces. Employees should have some freedom to shape their work environments according to their preferences and needs. This is a lot easier for remote employees, but not always the case for office staff. That’s why it’s important to take feedback from your office-based employees on how you might improve the office and to give your remote teams the budget to create an optimal space.
- Customize communication. Personalizing and targeting communication is a key distributed workforce best practice. If your frontline teams don’t get a certain perk, it can really feel bad to read about it in a shared all-team newsletter. Instead, consider diversifying your channel mix and targeting communications to each major employee group. This can cut down on confusion and noise, but also ensure that employee groups aren’t feeling left out.
- Embrace diverse problem-solving approaches. Each team member brings their own set of skills, experiences, and perspectives to the table. That’s one of the powerful advantages of having distributed and diverse teams! Encourage diverse problem-solving approaches by providing autonomy and flexibility in how individuals tackle challenges.
Use these approaches to create a supportive ecosystem where remote employees feel empowered to be their authentic selves.
2. Promote Work-Life Integration
Work-life integration is an approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of work and personal life. Rather than compartmentalizing them into separate entities, work-life integration encourages individuals to find a rhythm that allows them to thrive in both domains simultaneously.
This mindset is valuable because it can increase employee well-being, productivity, and satisfaction, which leads to higher levels of retention for the business. Here’s how you can transition your company into this mindset:
- Establish clear work expectations. People will always be more stressed if they don’t know exactly what’s expected of them. That stress only increases when workers don’t have line of sight to their manager or leadership. Create company-wide expectations regarding work hours, availability, and deliverables in your employee handbook. And make sure those expectations are realistic.
- Provide flexibility. Embrace a flexible work environment that allows employees to design their work schedules to accommodate personal needs. Provide the autonomy for individuals to decide when and where they work, as long as they meet their goals and deliverables.
- Encourage time blocking. Encourage employees to schedule blocks of time for work-related tasks and personal activities. This helps people prioritize and protect their time, fostering a sense of control and balance. This also means for your hourly workers, really respecting their time when they aren’t at work.
- Promote self-care and setting boundaries. Advocate for self-care practices and set healthy boundaries to prevent work from encroaching on personal time. Encourage employees to take breaks, engage in physical activity, and disconnect from work during designated non-working hours.
- Lead by example. For any of this to stick, executives and leaders must model work-life integration by demonstrating their commitment to personal well-being and maintaining a healthy work-life balance personally. When leaders prioritize their own work-life integration, it sends a powerful message.
3. Implement Virtual Events
There have been a variety of studies lately that show the power of work friendship. According to the 2021 Wildgoose study, 57% of people say having a best friend at work makes work more enjoyable.
While you might not need a best friend at work, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need positive relationships with colleagues. But remote and even hybrid employees have it a lot harder.
Without as much face-to-face time with their peers, it can be much harder to build meaningful work relationships. That’s why we need to make sure we’re carving out virtual events and activities beyond regular work meetings.
This can include virtual happy hours, online game nights, or themed virtual gatherings. These events promote team bonding, boost morale, and create a sense of community among remote employees.
4. Emphasize Performance Over Time
Some companies start to panic when they don’t have eyes on all their employees during the workday. But with more companies being global, dispersed geographically, and even embracing flexible working arrangements, it’s not possible.
Before you start googling employee monitoring software, perhaps consider that your company’s mindset about measuring performance and output might be what’s broken.
Historically, there has been a huge focus on time spent at work as a measure of success or engagement. But this is inherently flawed, isn’t it? And not a very human approach—energy levels fluctuate day-to-day and forcing employees to focus on keystrokes is a creativity killer.
Instead, shift your focus to a performance-oriented approach. This is less about time and task completion and weighs improvement more heavily than other models of performance evaluation.
So, encourage employees to set clear goals and measure success based on outcomes rather than the number of hours worked. This approach fosters higher productivity, accountability, and creativity.
5. Encourage Continuous Learning and Skill Sharing
Retaining talent is getting harder. But you can dramatically improve your retention rate by providing continuous learning and skill sharing opportunities. By encouraging employees to expand their knowledge, acquire new skills, and share their expertise, you can cultivate a culture of growth and innovation. Here are a few activities you can try:
- Implement peer learning programs. There is a wealth of knowledge in your workforce. Tap into that by using your comms channels for knowledge exchange among team members. Encourage employees to share their expertise through presentations, workshops, or mentorship programs. Peer learning not only promotes skill development but also strengthens teamwork and collaboration.
- Offer learning and development opportunities. Provide employees with access to a variety of learning and development opportunities, such as internal training programs, external courses, and certifications. Tailor these opportunities to meet individual needs and career aspirations, fostering a culture of continuous growth.
- Embrace learning technology. Leverage technology solutions such as learning management systems (LMS) and microlearning platforms to facilitate remote learning that fits into any schedule.
6. Facilitate Cross-Team Collaboration
Fostering cross-team collaboration is a crucial best practice for the distributed workforce. By breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration among teams, you can harness the collective knowledge, skills, and perspectives of your workforce.
- Establish shared goals. Ensure that teams have a clear understanding of the company’s goals and how their work aligns with those objectives. Establish shared goals that require collaboration across teams, creating a sense of purpose and shared accountability.
- Provide the right tools. Equip teams with technology that facilitates communication, document sharing, and project management.
- Facilitate regular communication. Establish regular communication channels and forums where teams can share updates, insights, and best practices. Encourage knowledge sharing sessions, virtual brainstorming sessions, or cross-team workshops to facilitate the exchange of ideas and expertise.
- Promote cross-team relationships. Encourage employees to build relationships beyond their immediate teams. Provide opportunities for cross-team networking events, virtual coffee breaks, or team-building activities that bring employees from different departments together. This helps foster connections, build trust, and facilitate future collaboration. You can also use these programs to promote internal roles and promote from within.
Unlock Next-Level Collaboration for Your Distributed Workforce
At theEMPLOYEEapp, we help companies with frontline, deskbound, and hybrid teams communicate more effectively. Bring your dispersed workforce together on one platform, that includes an internal communications app, an employee intranet, and SMS texting.
Book a demo today to learn more!
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