Creating Distance Independent Processes

Organizations that have operated with multiple offices or remote employees have probably learned to design their processes to function even when everyone is not at the same work location. This is a good practice for all companies, even if all their employees are currently co-located, knowing that many organizations will eventually grow to add additional offices or create a remote workforce plan.

There are several steps you can take today to prepare for a remote workforce in the future.

1. Current Process Evaluation. Review all of your current work processes to identify components that rely on face to face interaction or the physical sharing of resources or documents. In your process review document, make a note of all processes and process steps that would need to be altered to support a remote workforce.

2. Develop Distance Independent Alternatives. For the processes or steps in the above list, create a plan that will allow for the completion of the job function with remote team members participating. This could be identifying technology that would enable collaboration on documents or projects without being in the same office. There would also most likely be changes to key systems to facilitate the hand off of project tasks from one group or individual to another.

3. Communication. Even when you are on multiple floors of the same building, one of the challenges that organizations face is learning to communicate effectively. This is even more critical when the distance is miles instead of feet. When you build a communication plan, always address the question: “How do we get this message out to our remote locations or employees?” Every major communication plan should include several elements such as email, video conferences, DVD distribution, or regular conference calls.

4. Meeting Minutes. Don’t expect a message communicated at a physical staff meeting to reach those that are not present in the room. Post meeting minutes for those that were unable to attend. Use a standard format and make the minutes interesting, only containing the key messages and not unnecessary details. This will increase the likelihood that they will actually be read!

These are just a few of the steps you can think about when contemplating a remote workforce plan. For those of you that already work remotely or have remote employees, review your current practices to see if your processes and communication habits are “Remote Friendly.”

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