Embracing a distributed world of work

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By Catherine Muller, HR Manager at Obsidian Systems

The normalisation of a distributed workforce has seen some companies fall short when it comes to maintaining effective communications with their employees. Engagement between workers was always taken for granted in traditional office environments. But with many people now accessing their workspaces remotely, business leaders must rethink how they manage teamwork and collaboration for a post-pandemic world.

Of course, just because individuals are working from different geographic locations does not mean that businesses can neglect team building events. These can still take place even if it is through digital means. People must never lose the ability to connect with one another regardless of the medium.

Embracing the new

This requires traditionally minded managers and executives to adapt to the unique environment and let go of the need to try and control everything. In my experience, few people will still want to come into the office. Yes, there will always be a need for a physical environment especially when it comes to in-person meetings and other activities. However, the amount of these engagements will be limited as people will prefer to remain with their digital platforms.

Companies therefore need to change their strategy to integrate remote working into all aspects of their operations. A hybrid model will become more accepted as this still enables people who want to go into the office on occasion to do so. However, most of the focus will be on creating an effective work from home environment.

Over the last two years, people have become very comfortable in their own home office space. Not having to ‘dress up’ for work every day and getting flexibility over when they work as long as the job gets done. While traditionalists think people are not working when they are not in the office, modernists understand that the physical location of an employee does not impact on their ability to do their job.

Balancing act

Still, effective communication remains the most important thing when it comes to managing the distributed workforce and the technologies put in place to have teams collaborate. And while the technology being used is important, the human element should never be forgotten. After all, it will be employees who are reliant on the systems and who need to understand how best to use them.

Beyond that, as long as the technology encourages better communication and integrates the likes of real-time chat messaging, cloud-based document collaboration, and the like, employees can build comfort levels with the new environment. In doing so, smarter teams will be enabled to position the organisation for the digital world of work.

Think of things like trackable technology like project management. Using this will see managers and employees know what the tasks are to be done, who is busy doing what, and collaborate on being successful. This must be accessible in real-time to deliver the performance essential for distributed work.