Article: Engaging a distributed workforce

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Engaging a distributed workforce

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Know the trends when it comes to managing distributed workforce. Also, know how organizations can use technology to overcome the predicted side effects while engaging the remote workers?
Engaging a distributed workforce

The distributed workforce has become an enduring reality in this era where remote work is treated as the new normal.

As technology continues to advance, remote workers are becoming more common. There has been a surge in the number of digital entrepreneurs that is propelling the need to have virtual teams. However, acquiring the right skill set for remote employees, getting them on-board and then managing them while keeping them engaged is a big task in itself.

Here are some key trends observed in context to distributed workforce:

  • A report by UpWork states that 73 percent of all small business teams will have remote workers by 2028 with 33% of full time employees working remotely. 

  • The younger generation is more likely to use remote workers and within the next three years and two out of five full-time employees will work remotely. 

  • A survey by EY revealed that employers should start addressing ‘trust issues’. They realised that trust gets more complicated for remote team members in comparison to in-house team members

Corporations are beginning to have a better grip on cybersecurity policies for remote workers, especially those powered by blockchain technology. So a lot of employers are likely to diversify their work policies and allow a “choose-your-own-work-style” for employees

However, not working in a traditional environment brings its own set of challenges. Potential isolation, time management, team dynamism and productivity issues are some of its side effects if not paid immediate attention. It is the responsibility of the organization to ensure that all members feel valued and connected. So, the question arises what can address these challenges. Thanks to technology - new-age softwares and online tools are here for the rescue.  Technology has the power to act as an enabler for managers to keep their distributed team connected and engaged. 

Technology is coming of age and becoming more and more intuitive everyday. Thus, employer expectations of digital skills are shifting from basic to advanced. No matter blue collar or white collar employees, at-the-desk or remote employees. The demand for technology savvy professionals now extends well beyond the software development space. And permeates to the remote worker too.

Here are some tips on how to leverage tech to connect a remote workforce.

Virtual meetings through VR, apps and video conferencing

Meeting and conference rooms in the workplace should be equipped with video conferencing equipment to encourage interface, engagement and collaboration with remote employees.Video conferencing are really effective to cut down distractions. The agenda is laid and planned with more focus than in normal meetings. Apart from this, simple video chat apps are effective too. Most people today carry such technology in their pocket, encouraging quick face-to-face sessions to get every detail required in a project. Moreover, VR headsets and software like VR app BigScreen allows employees to share the screen in an immersive virtual environment with others sitting in their own home offices creating a more seamless interaction than other desktop-sharing softwares. Tech systems are improving the engagement levels of such immersive meetings in a shared environment.

Instant Messaging tools

Yes, the future is here. One of the more effective ways to keep remote in the loop is by using instant messaging apps, voicebots and chatbots that help cut down on emails. Such tools are convenient and easy to use when a fast response to a quick question is needed. Slack also enables one-on-one private messaging apart from sending messages in groups as non work related conversations are important for members of a virtual team to bond. Remote employees use separate conversations into project-specific channels to minimize confusion and maximize efficiency.

Project management and collaboration tools

Managers and in-house employees play a big part in determining the success or failure of a remote workforce for their organisation. They should offer ways for the team to provide updates, track projects, work on shared documents and ensure deadlines are met by the use of new-age, intuitive technology, like Darwinbox. They should also offer opportunities for coaching, mentoring and joint accountability for better trust and collaboration. The technology should allow for periodic check-ins and reporting, to ensure a stronger working relationship between management and employees - and lead to higher performance, engagement and collective success on the whole. 

Real-Time Feedback

Real time feedback tools for remote employees allow peers and managers to share constructive feedback in a much more effective way. Managers should make a concerted effort to give just as much feedback to remote employees as they do to in-house employees. This is not just to recognise and highlight their achievements but also to course correct and make the employees believe that the company is invested in their growth and career development. This can happen by using a new-age, easy to use technology platform, like Darwinbox. 

Building a culture of nurturing & training

Micro-learning and self-paced learning digital videos and mass culture programmes are bound to upskill, nurture and engage remote employees just like in-house employees. This also helps them feel like insiders and drive the company values and culture right with remote employees.

Total and advanced rewards:

On the smarter side, rewards are moving from standardised to personalised, hierarchy-led to peer-driven, and one-time to real-time. Powered by integrated and intuitive technology, organizations can slingshot engagement with R&R programs that are relevant, desirable, and in congruence with individual performance and merit. In this talent-led market, reward strategies are becoming enormously important to help organizations attract, motivate and retain the very best remote candidates. 

In short, technology is indeed a great catalyst which is enabling efficient management of diverse workforce of remote employees. With the help of available tools, communications are streamlined that help managers to achieve the necessary balance between micro-managing and providing clear guidance and direction to distant workforce. 

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Topics: Employee Engagement, #Smarter Work Life

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