A growing number of enterprises are deploying a distributed workforce to reduce costs, expand reach and drive business agility. And that’s great news for employees, who overwhelmingly embrace remote working. A survey by FlexJobs found that:
- 97% of employees want the option to work at least partially away from the office.
- 79% of employees would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options.
- 73% of employees think that remote working is helpful — rather than harmful — to building strong work relationships.
In fact, some employees are so interested in remote working that they’d be willing to make some major concessions. For example, 29% would take a major pay cut, 22% would give up their vacation, and 19% would forego employer-matching retirement contributions. Indeed, on a work landscape where leadership and employees sometimes struggle to see eye-to-eye, the idea of a distributed workforce is met with mutual harmony and consensus, rather than confrontation and conflict.
However, in practice remote working isn’t always generating win-win outcomes, and in recent years some enterprises — including a few high-profile organizations — have significantly dialed back or eliminated the option. Does this mean that the days of the distributed workforce are numbered? Not at all!
Just Add Chat Apps? Not So Fast!
The root problem is that some enterprises believe that in order to support remote workers, all they need to do is add a chat app to their existing mix of workforce management tools (e.g.
spreadsheets, emails, conventional project management software, home grown databases, etc.). Unfortunately, this turns their distributed workforce in to a disconnected workforce that triggers a range of obstacles and frustrations including:
- A lack of effective communication, which leads to misunderstandings, double-work and delays. After all, conversing is not the same as collaborating.
- A lack of input — especially from remote workers in time zones that differ from the head office (or hub) where key decisions are made. Often, they log into work and find that plans and priorities have changed.
- Limited access to files, documents and other resources, which is made worse when multiple versions of the same item are floating around in the environment.
- An inability to track remote worker progress and performance, which aside from being a serious project management problem, can trigger disengagement that causes some remote workers to feel shunned and left out.
The Solution: Collaborative Work Management
Fortunately — and some remote workers would say mercifully — all of these problems can be solved by bringing a cloud-based collaborative work management (CWM) solution like Clarizen into the environment that:
- Enables effective and efficient collaboration by automatically putting all emails, chats, and other unstructured communications within the context of each respective project.
- Uses customized business rules to automate and track any process, workflow, approval, validation or action.
- Centralizes document storage in a secure and searchable cloud-based repository, and keep things organized with powerful version control tools.
- Delivers full 360-degree visibility on all projects in the portfolio, which makes plans, decisions and priorities visible and transparent for all team members — including remote workers in different time zones.
- Allows remote workers to personalize their dashboards and settings, so they access the information that’s most important.
- Integrates seamlessly with Slack for notifications, displaying tasks, and submitting/updating timesheets.
The Bottom Line
Distributed working has been proven time and again — in studies and surveys like this one, this one, this one and this one — to make sense on every quantitative and qualitative level that matters: from bottom-line profitability and competitive advantage, to employee productivity and engagement, to customer experience and NPS.
As such, enterprises that aren’t reaping the rewards shouldn’t pull the plug and call in their remote workers. Instead, they should equip them with a legitimate, enterprise-grade collaborative work management (CWM) system; one that keeps a distributed workforce from becoming a disconnected workforce.
Discover the measurable rewards of collaborative work management, automated demand management, and advanced resource planning tools across your enterprise. Launch you fully-fledged 30-days trial of Clarizen today, or schedule your live guided demo.