As of mid-2017, the number of work-at-home employees who were not self-employed had grown by 115% since 2005, which is almost ten times faster than the workforce as a whole. Currently, around 3.7 million employees work from home at least half the time.
Technology has allowed work teams to be widely dispersed geographically, which is terrific both for workers who want to maximize opportunities without relocating and for employers who don’t want geography to be a limiting factor to assembling the talent they want into the teams they need.
Many dispersed teams meet in person on occasion to take care of business that cannot be done remotely. Nobody wants to waste that precious in-person time on administrative chores that can be completed remotely, or on catching up with communication. The key to making the most of in-person time is making the most of remote work time, and that requires well-thought-out workflows.
Ensure Everyone Has the Tools They Need
First, you have to ensure that everyone on a remote team has the tools and resource access they need to do their work. That may mean that everyone has a particular company app, or access to a particular Google Calendar. When employees are missing tools, they spend valuable time tracking down fellow team members for help rather than putting their skills and talents to more productive use.
Workflows for Clear Expectations and Accountability
Workflows can be designed so that they communicate expectations and document accountability, as long as you use the right workflow software to create your automated workflows. For example, simple online forms for documenting things like billable hours can automatically check for out-of-range errors (say someone leans too hard on the “zero” and accidentally bills 40,000 hours for a week), and ensure all necessary form fields are completed before allowing them to be submitted.
The right workflow management software can show you who has done what within a workflow. Has everyone submitted their time sheet for the week? Has Jane in Portland finished the graphic so that Tim in Baltimore can design the document in which it will be published? Automated workflows can be made to take care of these checks and balances, so people rarely or never have to personally track down this information.
Workflows That Reduce the Need for Direct Supervision
Well-designed automated workflows can also drastically reduce the need for direct supervision. If online forms won’t allow submission without the user entering a specific bit of information, the form itself can pop up a notification to that effect: “Client phone number is a required field,” for example.
Likewise, when someone with approval authority acts within a workflow, the workflow can document this and notify the appropriate parties automatically via email. That way, the person waiting for the go-ahead to take the next step in a process can be notified immediately when they can proceed.
Workflows for Getting to Know Other Team Members
Workflow applications don’t have to be all-business, all-the-time, either. It takes more time for a remote team to jell than it does a team that is around each other all week, but that doesn’t mean strong bonds won’t be formed. Your new team member onboarding workflow can offer your new person the opportunity to let people get to know them better, with questions about hobbies, interests, and the like. And each team member can have their own team member profile that similarly helps everyone learn more about the people with whom they work. You can even send out annual reminders to each team member to look over and update their profile.
PerfectApps is the workflow software that makes it easy for the manager of a dispersed team to create online forms and automated workflows that uniquely suit team needs. Forms can be made mobile-friendly, so team members can use their tablets or phones to complete steps in workflows or fill in forms, and automated notifications can be set so that everyone is on the same metaphorical page at all times. Take a moment to watch the PerfectApps demo. You’ll be inspired as you discover many ways you can use forms and workflows to make remote team management far more efficient and effective. Contact us for more information.