Is my company ready for a remote workforce?
Remote, more mobile workforces are becoming the new norm. There are many benefits to be gained from embracing the shift. But is your company ready for the change? Here are a few points to consider as you contemplate your more remote, more mobile and more flexible future.
The benefits of a remote office
The way we work is changing. That’s a fact. People want to be closer to and/or work from home, be more mobile, waste less time commuting and/or have more flexible work days. Equally, businesses are using technology to operate and serve markets far from their home bases and are also working every day to manage the cost and productivity of more fluid and remote workforces. The forces at work here can tug at your business and complicate or distract you from your primary goals - serving your customers and being profitable.
It pays to take a step back and consider how ready your business is for a more dispersed workforce with diverse working styles. We advise you consider these 4 important points when assessing just how ready your business is for a remote workforce:
Map out your current workflow processes
Before you consider implementing a remote office, gauge where the stress points, blockages, inefficiencies are in your current workflow processes.
- How are your people currently dispersed?
- How are your customers distributed?
- In what ways and how often do your people engage with each other, customers, partners and vendors?
- What are the mission critical tasks that require teamwork and engagement?
The exact questions you need to ask depend on the specifics of your business, but it’s important to get a good overview of what it’s currently like on the ground for your people.
Are your business processes streamlined, with clearly defined objectives?
Now you’ve got a clearer picture of your workflow process realities, it’s time to ask the next level of questions:
- Do you have the workflow processes in place to support an increasingly remote and mobile workforce?
- What should the goals of your workflow processes be? Facilitate the sale? Promote innovation?
- Will remote workforces enable more flexible working arrangements?
- Can you reduce costs and productivity wastage due to lower employee travel requirements?
Again, it depends on your business - but be clear on what it is you are hoping to achieve. Ultimately, of course, it’s about facilitating a happier and more productive workplace and about motivating and inspiring your workforce to create and deliver.
A great example is Railtrain. In this short 2 minute video learn how they worked with Ricoh to connect their remote people using video conferencing and interactive whiteboards, saving them travel costs and improving productivity.
Align your workforce culture for the remote, fluid future
Whether you have a company littered with Millennials or you are looking to reach more distant markets, the fact is that your workplace and workforce is in the business of change. So once you have set your goals for your new workflow processes, it’s important that you encourage and model the behaviours and practices that will give it the best chance of success. For example, workers can often feel that companies pay lip service to more flexible work arrangements yet really discourage anything but 9 to 5 in the office.
Be sure to share the business challenges as well as the goals of the new ways of working. People need to understand why things are changing and why it’s for the better. Encourage staff to participate in the change process and offer up their views and opinions on how it will impact and affect their day-to-day tasks and work life. It’s likely they will be able to offer up a host of ideas and improvements and perhaps even reveal some unintended consequences. So take the time to ask and listen. Suggest that people work together to share their own best practices and ideas for making the most out of any change. Try to orchestrate workers of different ages, work styles and jobs to collaborate. It will help people adapt much faster and make sure new best practices are shared equally across the organisation.
You don’t have to attempt this transition on your own
Ricoh is in the Business of Change. We work every day with companies, like Railtrain, that are looking to transform their operations: whether it's better communication through video-conferencing systems, knowledge management via interactive whiteboards and document management systems or secure, cost effective print solutions - or a combination of all of these. Our account managers and consultants work through the process of auditing, re-designing and re-tooling your workflow mechanisms to make sure they are aligned with your business goals. We then set you up with a technology platform and a solution that is robust enough to flex and evolve with your changing, more mobile and more remote workforce.
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