Collaboration Best Practices for Managing the Modern Mobile Workforce
Today’s modern workforce is more mobile than ever. A lot of employees are no longer stuck within cubicles and offices. More and more are exploring opportunities outside the official premises of the company. Aside from that, the number of telecommuting or work-from-home employees is also increasing.
This presents companies with a major set of challenges, primary of which is collaboration. It would have been easier if your mobile workforce is only working on separate projects, but if they are to work on something together, the physical distance will make it more difficult.
That is why it is important for business owners and managers to set best practices in terms of collaboration for your modern mobile workforce. If you do not know where to start, here are some tips:
Equip your company, particularly your workforce, with technology that will foster collaboration
This is actually quite easier than you think with the rise of cloud technology. It seems like there’s a cloud-based solution for every business need, and that includes communication and collaboration. Here is a list of some apps that can help you:
- RingCentral – In the past, you would have had to get separate providers for voice, PBX, and audio and video conferencing. But this unified communications provider is able to provide all these and more in one service. This lets your mobile workforce stay connected to the company and each other. Employees can simply call each other directly via extension numbers, send business SMS, voice message or fax, or meet through an audio or video conference.
- Glip – Hipchat and Slack may be the more popular team messaging and collaboration apps, but since Glip’s $5 basic plan is free with RingCentral, this tops this list. It allows your team to be in constant communications as it serves as the team’s main instant messaging app where they can also set tasks, share files, and video chat.
- Basecamp – This is one of the oldest and easiest project management app to use. You can create task lists and add collaborators. From there you can communicate per project or per task, attach files, and monitor progress and milestones.
These are just some of the cloud-based apps you can use. You can pick and choose which ones will work for your business.
Define the team’s overall and individual goals and deadlines
Mobile and telecommuting employees are pretty independent workers who do not need too much supervision. They are results-oriented, and they will work on a task at their own pace. It is up to you and your managers to get everyone on the same page on collaborative projects and tasks. It is important that expectations are set for each project so that none of the team members go rogue and do things their own way. The best way to do this is to clearly set the goals, assign specific tasks and responsibilities, and set reasonable timetables. It would also help if you can pinpoint tasks that are dependent on each other. Encourage your team to use the tools stated above to communicate and collaborate with each other to see where each other is at and to clear any confusion or misunderstandings that may arise.
Meet with team members individually and as a group
It is important that you and your managers meet with the team regularly. Not only to check on progress and to see if everyone is on the same page, but also to bring everyone together, if not physically, at least through a video conference call. These meetings let everyone put a face to the person they are talking to, and should give them the sense that they are working with other people. Aside from group meetings, you should also meet with team members individually, especially if there are choke points where the project is not moving as fast. It is better to address this with the team member individually, instead of in a group setting to avoid awkward situations.
Give positive reinforcement where it applies
Because mobile and telecommuting employees are extremely independent, managers forget that they still have to be leaders to their workforce. Like in a traditional office, positive reinforcement goes a long way towards an employee’s morale and love of work. During group meetings, always mention individual and group milestones to liven up the mood. In individual meetings, always start off with the positive marks of the employee before going to points of improvement. This will show that you see everything, both good and bad.
Manage without micro managing
Lastly, always remember that mobile employees are used to independence. Make your presence felt by being a leader to the team but avoid going into every little detail of every task unless you have to. Trust your team to do their job and just be there when they need you.