4 ways to manage remote workers when you don’t know how long they’ll be working from home

ORIGINAL ARTICLE BY CHRISTINE TRODELLA @ FAST COMPANY

Christine Trodella of Workplace from Facebook notes that while we can’t predict what will happen with the world in a few months, weeks, or days, remote workers aren’t going anywhere, and companies need to adapt to remain competitive.

The remote worker is almost as old as the internet itself, so we’ve had more than a couple of decades to learn how to manage employees who aren’t physically present. But as we see this trend increase, it’s clear that effectively managing an employee whose “office” is in their home with an internet connection and a computer doesn’t mean that there’s a truly symbiotic relationship between a manager and their remote, work-from-home reports. It’s a lot more complicated than that. In fact, the learning curve has turned out to be steeper than any of us anticipated, and this specific employee group continues to be severely underrepresented despite their very unique needs.

A recent survey of 2,000 frontline workers and 2,000 managers in the U.S. and the U.K. shows that there is a major disconnect between workers on the front lines and business leaders. In fact, almost 90% of these employees feel connected to direct coworkers, but less than 15% feel connected to HQ. Worse, just 3% feel connected to their C-suite. That disconnect is affecting the bottom line. Less than half of workers say they share ideas with senior team members, and more than half say they feel voiceless. That can contribute to an environment where suggestions go unsaid and innovative ideas are stifled.

These numbers provide some important food for thought. Are you at risk of losing exceptional remote-based talent because you’re unclear on how to best manage and retain those workers, especially if your “work from home” policy extends longer than previously anticipated? (Which we know many companies are facing now, with COVID-19 impacting businesses worldwide.) During a crisis—or if someone is at home with family, or sick, etc.—people may need to take a more flexible approach. To better accommodate families and work in general during these times, have frequent team check-ins to understand your team’s needs and be sensitive to their well-being.

It’s time to meet these challenges head-on because the future is only getting more distributed. Here’s how leadership can navigate this evolving modern work environment and create an organization that values each employee.

ONBOARDING, TRAINING, AND MANAGING REMOTE WORKERS

For an in-office worker, the first day on the job is usually filled with introductions, new equipment, and the crucial first lunch. But the first day for remote workers looks very different.

Just because a remote or deskless worker isn’t at the office doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same onboarding experience and training as the rest of your team. Send a welcome package in the mail along with necessary equipment (where applicable) and include a training schedule as well as some introductory instructions (login information for work accounts, for example). Also include handbooks and style guides. Assign a work mentor to whom the new employee can turn for help and advice. Better yet, take advantage of the tools at your disposal, like creating a bot that will automate monthly check-ins, or create a direct chat where you can take advantage of immediate, one-on-one feedback. Entire businesses can also benefit from newer technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and more. We must be open to these ideas and be unafraid of pushing the boundaries of innovation that enable greater and more interesting connections.

From the beginning, managers of remote and distributed employees should be asking questions about preferences for minor things that make a big difference, such as feedback style and meeting preferences (for example, do they prefer videoconferencing for one-on-ones or group catch-ups?). Create a “How I Work” document and ask your direct reports to fill it out. You can capture very important information, and it shows you’re being mindful, thoughtful, and preferential to what works for them. It’s also important to regularly communicate and check for context. When teams are dispersed, it is difficult to know who has been exposed to project knowledge and updates, so reinforcing context in writing, during one-on-ones, and team meetings is important.

Managers should also make a list of where remote employees can find helpful resources, from important company updates to how to reach IT for technical issues. Ensure your organization has enterprise tools that are available on mobile devices and have little barrier to entry for frontline employees who may not be in a home office.

ENCOURAGE ENGAGEMENT WHILE YOUR WORKFORCE IS DISTRIBUTED

The old saying “Out of sight, out of mind” can certainly apply to those not in the office. It’s easy for remote workers to feel they aren’t heard, and it can be difficult to collaborate with people who aren’t physically present.

It would seem obvious that the correct way to address this disconnect would be to invest heavily in collaboration tools. But the same survey shows that while 95% of business leaders recognize the value of collaboration tools, only 56% have rolled them out.

If your organization is serious about tapping into the potential of remote workers, it needs to invest in the best technologies to make sure collaboration tools are not just suggested but are incorporated into all processes to ensure that all workers, remote or at HQ, can have their contributions equally seen and heard.

So why not make this a fun process for your workforce while they work distributed? Perhaps make a company-wide “work where you want” day and have your workers send a photo to your HR team for them to post on a company forum somewhere to showcase all the different places and ways that your colleagues work, best practices, or work-from-home hacks that colleagues can share with each other.

Remote workers also need to be included in things such as all-hands meetings hosted by the CEO via videoconferencing and Q&As that can be watched live or bookmarked to view later in local time zones.

ADAPTING TO CHANGING ENVIRONMENTS AND WORK CULTURE

As organizations become more global and increasingly mobile, leaders need new ways to build, scale, and sustain culture across their organizations. Technology is the key to creating an open, transparent culture. After all, when you connect people and give them access to information, you can change culture and transform your business. It’s no surprise that working alone can be isolating, so it’s important to leverage the right technology that not only connects everyone, but makes them feel physically present.

However, technology is only one influential part here. The people make the largest impact. If you have your mission and vision written on your website, provide some swag for your remote workers to keep on their desks at home—for instance, printed on a calendar, a water bottle, a notepad, etc. Remote workers aren’t just looking for a connection to each other but to the very vision they believed in when accepting their current role.

HELPING CHANGE MANAGERS’ MINDSETS ABOUT DISTRIBUTED/REMOTE ORGANIZATIONS

Managers, executives, and C-suite leaders should focus on where the best talent resides and realize that those employees may not always be located in the corporate headquarters or local office. Alternatively, as the world changes, it may be a safety precaution or requirement that must be taken and may be prolonged due to unexpected conditions.

This means understanding that what’s best for your organization may mean enabling workers across the globe who are best suited to meet your bottom line, assist your customers, and serve your business, from a desk or the front line. Leadership must embrace this as well and ensure that employees know that the quality of their work will remain more important than the location they’re getting their work done. As leadership encourages a forward-thinking organization, you will retain and attract like-minded employees who end up being great colleagues.

When there are annual meetings, remote and distributed employees need to be there. And if they can’t attend holiday functions, make sure to make them feel seen and valued by sending a treat (cookies can do wonders). Remember that all the perks of being an in-office employee extend to distributed and remote employees.

When it comes to being a distributed organization, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. The trick is to get strategic about the tools at your disposal and ensure your leadership team is equipped with a set of tools to best manage their direct reports, whether in-office or online. You’ll also need to shift the organization’s mindset to recognize that teams extend beyond just the people in the office.

Leadership teams and managers also need to ensure they’re collecting feedback and sentiment about the distributed employees they manage. That will ensure that corporate offices are aware of pain points and how to best incorporate and provide feedback with the goal of creating a unified, collaborative environment that prioritizes open communication and support.

While we can’t predict what will happen with the world in a few months, weeks, or days, we can follow the trends that point to the fact that remote workers aren’t going anywhere, and companies need to adapt to remain competitive. Hopefully, leadership teams will equip managers with tools to feel heard, gather feedback, celebrate wins, understand work preferences, and ensure connection to global headquarters.

Lifting up to your Potential

This is about Lift. The desire to lift the potential of those around us. I chose this “Gig” as my attempt to lift the performance of Independent Business Owners as a start. We believe that we can bring best in class performance to tens of thousands that lift up those that have not had the time as they say “in tall grass.” Another words, they haven’t had the time to build the experience. What if you had the expert next to you to help lift you up in real time?

For so long in business we used sports metaphors to help employee’s relate to business success stories. I will take a different approach and use music to relate to business success. Sport appeals to mostly men and music appeals to us all, including woman. What a novel concept. I hope I can do justice to this. That’s not to say I have not used or been involved in many sports stories for business. I worked on a project called “The Winning Spirit” with Joe Montana the legendary quarterback. He preached repetition of your goal to get there faster and with better quality. We’ll take a tour on how to help Gig Economy Networks thrive in the new economy and how being able to have real time recommendations can take you to a higher level.

The greatest maturity in providing lift is when it happens between people, not by directives from management. The best musical performances are when people with different backgrounds come together and make something happen that they would not be able to on their own. Think of the Beatles and how they were able to work with each other to produce so many unique songs. They were produced by George Martin, some say the 5th Beatle. He was able to lift them up to greater heights. Lifting up. As an Independent Business Owner we don’t typically have a producer, coach, mentor at our side. We now have the tools to do this in real time.

The Gig Economy is new. There are good things about it as it is now employing tens of millions of workers and it is also untested in how the policies should be administered to make sure there is a fair balance in the relationship between companies that see the opportunity and the labor practices that we are accustomed to. This will take some ups and downs before it settles down. I get excited about the opportunity to help contribute to this.

Do you remember when you were a teenager you had some stand out moments that you still remember today? I first came across the term “gig” when I was a teenager and learned that I could make some extra money playing a gig with my band. Meeting girls was an added benefit, but making money playing music could bring in some income was a cool proposition. It worked out well as we found ourselves in the middle of the Bay Area music explosion and got some pretty nice “gigs”

The word Gig today has many connotations. A “side hustle” can bring in extra income and is easier to line up from what has come before. The downside is that many networks have been launched on the backs of freelance workers. We are at a point historically that we need to define the role of gig workers and their relationship with the networks they perform in. This is not easy and has been a struggle over many generations.

Today is Labor Day. It acknowledges the hard work that goes into making our nation what it is. We have had the good fortune of having some of the brightest people and the greatest amount of opportunities that surround us. This has distinguished the U.S. in many ways. We should take a moment and appreciate the opportunity for someone to become successful if they so desire.
There are so many stories of those that had little, that rose up the ranks with their internal drive and support from those around them to step into a better place.

We have lost the upward mobility of the masses. Other countries like China are able to lift up the standard of living to a far greater number of people from what we can. Is it technology, competitiveness, policy or we’ve just had it so good over the years? We need to talk about this and find a way to lift up once again.

We need to define what would serve us the most in the Gig Economy. We are in the midst of redefining the Future of Work and for that matter how we spend our time on a daily basis. The new digital capabilities create a lot of change in how we all relate. From work to play. We hope to contribute to future success stories as to how the Gig Economy can lift the Labor market in new ways. Please join us on this journey.

 

Gig Economy Group Launches with New AI-Driven Business Process Management Platform to Drive Higher Sales and Profitability

New sales enablement technology changes the way companies and associations can engage and support sales teams and members in a time of digital transformation

SAN MATEO, California. – April 19, 2018 – Gig Economy Group (GEG), a Business Process Management (BPM) Platform designed to enable direct sales businesses and membership organizations to create and support a more informed and successful independent sales force, today announced the launch of the company’s new technology and website. GEG uses proprietary AI (artificial intelligence) technology to help sales forces know “what to do next” to increase speed of on-boarding, increase engagement, retention and productivity of sales forces.

With the digitization of sales becoming more prevalent, sales teams look towards optimizing their strategies to become even more effective, efficient and productive. Sales enablement platforms need to continuously evolve along with digital transformation and have access to emerging technologies that improve productivity and speed administrative tasks in real time to dynamically deliver the most effective content to support each customer interaction.

Machine learning and a unique approach to AI enables GEG to harness the power of human knowledge and experience to proactively surface and present the most appropriate content or action for each individual user in every situation that they face. GEG uses this technology to help address the uniquely human and personal challenges of on-ramping into a new position, building momentum and confidence, and moving successfully toward business goals. This value enables sales, service and marketing teams to work more effectively to grow their pipelines, collaborate more effectively, move deals through the sales process faster, and increase win rates.

“We are proud to announce the release of a platform that empowers independent sales professionals an experience that helps them determine what to do next in the sales process to increase revenue generation”, said Dave Toole, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Gig Economy Group. “We combine machine learning and content marketing with our proprietary artificial intelligence workflow engine to optimize the sales journey. Imagine if you could determine which attributes would drive larger deal sizes, longer-term lifetime value and greater loyalty. This would change how a company assign territories, prioritize prospects and drive customer success management for existing clients. This is precisely why we developed the GEG platform.”

GEG Business Process Management Platform Features

  • Sales Enablement Technology: GEG leverages machine learning to proactively deliver sales training, consumer-facing content, and recommended next action steps that align with customer needs and drive more sales. The platform continuously learns, evolves, and becomes more powerful as the result of the human intelligence and actual sales data that it gathers and analyzes from across the entire organization.
  • Rapid Onboarding Meets Sales Effectiveness: Sales reps must acquire significant company and product-specific knowledge before they can successfully use their sales skills, which takes time and hinders their speed to market. GEG allows a sales rep to interact with the market immediately by bringing content and training to each sales rep, before they need ask for it. This dramatically decreases onboarding time and significantly increases sales effectiveness to drive revenue growth.
  • Proactive Next Steps for Every Sales Situation: The typical tool set for a sales rep is a portal for training, and another for content, which they must navigate to find the proper piece of content before continuing their journey. This process slows down sales momentum and frustrates your frontline. The GEG platform empowers sales teams by proactively delivering the content and training required prior to each next step in the sales cycle, aligning the company’s product with the customers interests and needs.
  • Data-Driven Insights from Machine Learning + Human Intelligence: GEG uses data-driven insights, machine learning, and ‘augmented emotional intelligence’ to harness the power of an organization’s human intelligence and experience in order to proactively surface and delivers the right information (consumer-facing content and sales training) and recommended next action steps for each individual user to take to maximize their opportunity for successful outcomes.
  • Measurable Business Results: By providing the content and training that aligns and supports a diverse sales team (in-house or remote), executives can immediately see the impact as related to their most important business metrics. With GEG’s AI-powered platform that minimizes time to market, sales rep enthusiasm and commitment increase, turnover falls, and sales and revenues increase.

For more information about the GEG platform, please visit our website at: www.gigeconomygroup.com or request a demo by emailing us at support@gigeconomygroup.com.  Stay updated on GEG’s developments and news by visiting our social channels at: Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

About Gig Economy Group:

Gig Economy Group’s Business Process Management (BPM) Platform enables direct sales businesses (and membership organizations) to create and support a more informed and successful independent sales force.

The company’s software proactively delivers the customer content and sales training information that individual reps require at the moment they need it at any point in the sales cycle. To determine what content, coaching, and recommended next steps to present, GEG uses data-driven insights, machine learning, and ‘augmented emotional intelligence’ to harness an organization’s own collective human intelligence and experience. Through use of the Gig Economy Group platform, reps become more confident, productive, and successful, while companies experience faster onboarding, greater retention, increased overall performance, and growth in sales revenue.

Media Contact:
Beth Trier, Trier & Company for Gig Economy Group
beth@triercompany.com, 415-285-6147