Operations Archives - TAB Corporate

How to Manage Your Mobile Workforce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The American workforce is changing the nature of “work” as we once knew it. The days when employees absolutely had to work at a desk, in an office, are long gone. While many businesses still insist on keeping their workforce on-site, more than 30 percent of Americans work remotely during some or most of the work-week.

It’s time for more companies to recognize that advances in technology have made it possible for employees to do their jobs—for the most part—anywhere in the world. These digital improvements are now at a point, notes Biz Tech, where “geography is—or, at least, can be—a nearly irrelevant factor in an employee’s work experience and productivity.”

This has also altered job-seekers’ expectations of flexibility in their employer’s approach as to how work gets done. Companies that fail to account for this shift in attitude may find it more difficult to recruit—and then adequately manage—their budding remote workforce.

Here are tips for managing your off-site, mobile team:

Understand what makes them tick. The most successful remote workers consider themselves self-starters. They have a clear idea of their job responsibilities, what’s expected of them, how they will get their tasks completed, and so on. They also expect to be given the most sophisticated tools and resources needed to meet their job responsibilities. Perhaps just as importantly, they want to feel good about the company they work for.

By getting to know these individuals and grasping their underlying motivations, “you’ll find that it is very easy to extract the best performance possible.”

Focus on communications. The most effective way to keep remote workers engaged is through focusing on consistent, high-quality communications.  Establish a schedule that works for all involved but emphasizes ongoing contact (once or twice a week for updates, twice a month for in-depth reports, etc.).

Digital portals enable both the worker and his or her manager to see at a glance where projects stand, approaching deadlines and other pertinent information. Leverage such technology to ensure that key responsibilities are being met, but also to determine if off-site hurdles are preventing completion of tasks.

Be available. Let your mobile workers understand that you’re available to talk to (by whatever medium) at a short notice. And when you do speak with these individuals, give them your full attention. Treating them as less-than-full members of the team can negatively impact their motivation and ultimate performance. With today’s technology, you can always have a genuine interaction with your off-site staff.

Offer incentives just as you would with your onsite team. Remote workers respond just as favorably to rewards and other incentives as your in-house employees. Whether it’s formal recognition for a job well done—which also alerts everyone in the company of the high value you place on your mobile team—or providing gift certificates or other rewards, your remote workers will greatly appreciate that you took the time and effort to recognize their contributions.

Provide opportunities for professional development. If you currently provide tuition or otherwise sponsor professional development courses for your onsite workforce, there’s no reason to deny these opportunities to remote workers. They’ll benefit just as much from the chance to hone their skills and broaden the range of their expertise—and your business will benefit, too. Offering such opportunities keeps these people engaged with your business and less likely to turn elsewhere for employment.

Remote workers are increasingly becoming an essential facet of today’s workforce. To get the most from them, it’s important to manage their work with sensitivity and respect, while also ensuring they have what they need to achieve maximum productivity. Your business will be more successful as a result.

To learn more about fully engaging your workforce, we invite you to register for this free TAB webinar, “Grooming Engaged, Entrepreneurial Employees.”

 

Save Time with Fewer (and More Productive) Meetings

 

For most companies, there’s no way around having meetings as a way to conduct day-to-day business. At the same time, it’s hard to find any CEO or business owner who doesn’t experience frustration at having to participate in so many meetings, or who feels stymied by the lack of concrete results that come from these meetings.

The problem becomes even more deplorable when you think about the time lost in this particular activity. Whether it involves a small group of your senior executive team or a company-wide gathering, there’s just no excuse for taking up precious minutes or hours and having little to show for it.

Here are tips for maximizing the value of the meetings you request and/or participate in. (First hint: Reduce the number of meetings you take part in on a regular basis.)

Be sure there’s an agenda. Just because a once-a-week meeting pops up on your calendar doesn’t mean you should attend if nothing pressing is being addressed. Ask the person organizing the event to provide a meeting agenda beforehand, complete with any materials needed to review in advance and a time-limit attached to each agenda item. This way, you can determine whether or not your presence is absolutely necessary.

Don’t invite anyone who doesn’t need to attend. When individuals attend with no real stake in the matter at hand, a significant amount of time can be squandered when these people choose to weigh in at length. Meeting organizers should invite only those people who can provide helpful input and move the process forward.

Appoint a timekeeper. How often does a meeting participant share his or her input at such length that a 30-minute meeting drags on for another half-hour or longer? It’s understandable. People want to share their insights and knowledge (or, sometimes, a simple opinion), but allowing them to speak indefinitely eats up time better used elsewhere. One simple solution is appointing a meeting participant to act as timekeeper. This person pays close attention to the time specified for each agenda item; when that time expires, his or her job is to politely cut off conversation (offering alternative options for further discussion) and keep things moving forward.

Explore different types of meetings. There’s no law stating that every meeting must take place in the company’s conference room. Look at different venues for a meeting setting, such as a brisk walk outside. “Not only will a bit of fresh air and sunshine wake up colleagues and get the blood flowing, but it will also stimulate creative thinking,” notes Small Business Trends.

Determine a “no device in meetings” rule. By now, it’s a fact of life that employees (and executives) are closely attached to their mobile devices. But allowing the use of devices in a meeting only encourages participants to become distracted and not contribute to the topics under discussion. Establish guidelines under which it’s permissible (or not) to text, check emails or otherwise look at devices during a meeting. A three-minute break to check for messages during a long meeting might be a viable solution.

As you establish new policies or guidelines for conducting meetings in your organization, outline your proposals in a way that clearly is advantageous to all involved. “The key is to frame your advocacy not as purely self-interested (“I don’t have time for this nonsense”), but instead as a manifestation of your commitment to the company and your shared mission,” states Harvard Business Review. For most people, “that’s a hard message to resist.”

Want to learn more about the effective use of your time? Sign up for this free webinar presented by time-management expert Steve Davies, “Using a To Don’t List to Manage Time.”