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Managing the Distributed Workforce

March 15, 2018

Under skilled leadership, virtual employees can make real contributions to corporate performance and profitability.

Remote teams offer a number of benefits—lower overhead, greater access to talent, and more. But a geographically dispersed workforce presents managers and leaders with new challenges that shift the focus from managing projects to managing project teams. How do you build the right balance when managing remote teams?

  • Gaining traction through training. Fostering team cohesion, collaboration, and a sense of shared purpose begins with communicating expectations and performance criteria. A strong training program gives remote team members the grounding they need to understand what is expected of them not only in performing their responsibilities, but in interacting with colleagues.
  • Make accountability matter. You may need to redefine the way you think about—or at least measure—accountability. The traditional mindset of noting when employees arrive, how long they take for lunch, and what time they leave for the day is outmoded. And while technologies can monitor virtual employees’ activities in line with these standards, that’s a misuse of resources and a misplacement of priorities.
  • Cultivate virtual leaders. Introduction of a distributed workforce need not disrupt your company’s formal hierarchy, but it will contribute to the emergence of informal leaders within the organization. This should work to your competitive advantage over the long term. It promotes an environment in which individuals have more opportunities to align their interests and aspirations with the organization’s business goals, to everyone’s benefit.

By adapting both the company and its leadership to this workplace evolution, you can create an environment in which remote team members interact productively and contribute collectively to advancing the company’s vision and mission.

Read the Managing a Distributed Workforce guide to learn how to bring virtual employees together to create a cohesive team.

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