2017 - Page 2 of 5 - AdvantEdge Training & Consulting
Business Communications, Virtual Employee Management

Getting Dispersed Teams Communicating

When teams work remotely, and are dispersed across multiple locations, team members can become isolated and cut off from their team coworkers.   This can stunt communication, since it is not generated as a natural byproduct of working in the same location together every day.   So how do you ensure you keep them communicating as much as they would when in the office?  You have to get them used to using different communication channels in place of traditional face-to-face time.  It often can take some forced effort until you get them in the habit. During team phone calls, allow time at the beginning or end to allow small talk. Initiate this small talk by throwing out questions to get everyone participating. Pair up team members on small projects or tasks that require them to communicate via phone. Have them come up with ways to combat competitor products, or have them find a solution to an issue and present to the team. Have senior team members mentor new members through scheduled weekly conversations. Have team members post items on the company Intranet, including blogs, wiki’s, and discussion boards, to share ideas and accomplishments. Encourage employees to use IM for quick drop-in type questions Have employees use web cameras, whenever possible during conference calls, so team members can have some visual interaction There are many tools you can provide for your team to use to communicate when not in the same office.  However, you will most likely have to encourage their use until they are communicating as frequently as being in the same location.  It is also good to ensure they do not only rely on the electronic tools such as email, IM, and intranet, and that they are including just as much phone communication as other types. by Jenny Douras For more on Remote Employee Management Topics, Take the online course at Remote Employee Management Register for a seat in our live Remote Employee Management virtual training center class Call 303-900-8963 or email: [email protected] for private group training.

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Virtual Employee Management

Establishing Respect In Managing Remote Employees

Many remote managers make the mistake of trying to establish their credibility through demands and force.  Have you ever had a manager tell you a new policy or procedure is being implemented with the reason of “because that’s the way it is” or “that’s what I decided” or “it is what it is.”  How did this make you feel?  Did it bring back bad flashbacks of your parents telling you when you were a kid “because I said so?”  People need reasons and explanations behind actions; this conveys that you respect their thoughts and feelings enough to include them in the rational.  It doesn’t mean you need to evoke their consensus, but it will display your respect for them, which directly builds it in return.   One manager told their employee they were making their decision because their “ego just couldn’t currently let them accept the other person’s idea.”  As irrational a reason as this was, the fact that it was obviously truthful and that they were willing to share this reason behind their decision with the employee, earned their respect for the decision. Respect is earned, not demanded.  Those that demand respect actually destroy it.  Have you ever known a manager that others display respect to when they interact with them, but immediately behind their back do the opposite?  They complain about the manager’s decisions, delivery, goals, etc. . .  This leads to a team that does not embrace the manager’s and company’s goals and initiatives.   A successful team is one that is motivated by their manager and is behind their decisions (of their own free will – not by being forced).  This allows a company to make quick changes, capture and develop innovative ideas, and stay competitive.   Granted, not every employee will like every idea that their manager communicates, but if they genuinely respect their manager, they are more likely to support those decisions in conversation with others, rather than spread dissent.  Because remote employees can more easily feel separated from the company, inter-team communication can spread like a brush fire and generate emotions not conducive to the team’s success. Own your decisions. Another common error made of managers is to do the opposite, when conveying a decision, by shirking ownership of it.  Some managers convey reasons for directives to their employees as: “executive management made the rule” or “it’s a new company policy,” while at the same time communicating that they as a manager don’t necessarily agree but their “hands are tied.”   This type of communication is generally motivated by a need to be liked by their employees.  Even though managers should strive to earn the respect of their employees, it does not mean they necessarily need to be liked.  The goal is not to be their friend, but to be their manager. When a manger uses this type of communication they discredit themselves by not owning their decisions.  Employees will read this as a sign of weakness.  The result can be employees going above or outside of their management structure to get answers, approval, assistance, etc. . . or to question their manager’s decisions.  Rather than saying “I personally wouldn’t mind if you took the day off, but I don’t think if would look good to executive management”, be the authority yourself.  You are the face of the company for your employees.  You do want to give them the “reasons why” behind the decision, when at all possible, but don’t defer to another power.  Instead try something like,” We have a critical project right now and I need you to be here today to make sure we meet the deadlines.” Credibility through commitments. Another way to create respect and establish credibility is through commitments.  This is especially critical in distributed workforce teams.  A common compliant among these types of teams is that their manager does not get back to them when they try to contact them.  Absent managers leave employees feeling isolated and will generate either unwanted maverick behavior (employees feeling that they can do whatever they want without following protocol), or employees that don’t reach set goals, based on excuses of “but you didn’t tell me to”, or “I didn’t know.”  To keep employees motivated and feeling like they are part of the company and team, a manager needs to keep promises and commitments.  Even if it is a small promise; if you say you will get them something by Tuesday, then do so.  Set consistent schedules with employees and don’t change them unless there is an emergency.  If you have a time scheduled to talk with a remote employee each week, don’t reschedule it.  Otherwise this will send the message that you don’t think they are a high priority.  This sends the message that it is OK for them to reschedule or find excuses not to attend meetings and calls as well. by Jenny Douras For more on Remote Employee Management, Take the online course at Remote Employee Management Register for a seat in our live Remote Employee Management virtual training center class Call 303-900-8963 or email: [email protected] for private group training.

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Virtual Employee Management

7 Keys to Ensure Success with a Team of Remote Employees

Quickly disappearing are the days of companies where all employees are based in one office.  With the need to keep competitive in today’s business landscape companies need faster speed to service for their clients, they need to cut travel cost to see clients, and they need improved customer service.  This all creates a workplace which is spread out across the globe to better meet client’s needs.  In fact, the virtual employee scenario is quickly growing.  Research has suggested that now over 75% of US companies have some portion of their employees that work in separate locations from their teammates or manager.  If you have to pick up the phone to communicate with your employees, then you have a remote workforce (aka teleworking, virtual or field employees).  This creates challenges in company expectations of remote employees and in effectively managing a remote workforce. So how do you manage a team of people who work in different locations?  What are the different techniques you need to employ?  Below are the 7 key areas that remote managers should focus on to ensure their team of virtual employees stay productive, focused, accountable, and engaged.  Click on each to see the short 1 minute video about each key. Increased communication Build a team community Manage to goals , not tasks Enable micro-monitoring for accountability Socratic coaching Motivate rather than move Build trust The changing business environment and ensuing structure does not need to spell painful transitions for employees and corporations.  By understanding the needs and techniques, for managing this new business format of distributed and mobile workforces, companies can capitalize on success by implementing these new management techniques.   As many companies struggle, to figure out the new workforce, those that have streamlined it, will excel in the marketplace, and with their clients. by Jenny Douras For more on Remote Employee Management, Take the online course at Remote Employee Management Register for a seat in our live Remote Employee Management virtual training center class Call 303-900-8963 or email: [email protected] for private group training.

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Management, Virtual Employee Management

Effective Management, Not Telecommuting Bans, Make Employees More Productive

Company-wide cohesion is not created with a forced work environment, but rather with good management.  In today’s global workforce, the majority of US companies now have some portion of their workforce that works remotely from their main office.  Companies now need to do more with less, and having employees based near clients cuts down travel costs and provides quicker service.  As well, employees have been proven to be more productive when they can work from a home office, cutting down on commute time and disruptions.  This has created a shift in the old assumptions, that all work must be completed in the same office location. However, some have a hard time releasing those assumptions, limiting their corporation’s ability to stay competitive.  It’s like the refusal to use an automobile, at the turn of the last century, because of a belief that a horse drawn carriage was more effective.   Yes, a horse drawn carriage has some charm to it and was effective for a long time, but eventually they were run over by the automobile and they are no longer a competitive transportation method. You can’t care for an automobile the same way you do for a horse team and the same is true with a telecommuting team.  For a remote workforce model to work, it has to be managed correctly.  If it is not, it can impact communication and collaboration, as well as encourage non-focused employees.  But if it is managed correctly, you will have a much more effective and competitive business model. There are 7 strategies to successfully managing remote/teleworking teams, that differs from regular employee management. Increased Communication – Communication with teleworking employees must be increased. The perception, as expressed by Yahoo, is that you will communicate less with virtual working employees – which will cause the decrease in collaboration and idea sharing that they experienced.  Managers need to make a conscious effort to communicate more with teleworking employees, as well as facilitate increased communication between team members, to foster the same level of idea sharing and collaboration.  Communication should never be delayed because you can’t walk down the hall to chat with someone.  Pick up the phone, send an email or use IM to foster that same chat.  It does take some initial assistance to get employees into this routine, but once that is created, it will happen naturally. Create a Team Community – Managers need to make a more concerted effort to create a team community when their teams work remotely. They need to find opportunities for team members to work together, celebrate together, and spend time talking about non-work related things.  This helps them get to know each other as individuals, so they can work more effectively together, and feel like a part of an important group. Manage to Goals and Outcomes, Not Tasks – Give employees the responsibility to manage themselves by providing the vision and guidance when needed, rather than explicit instructions that are task focused. Think of a team’s goals as a bowling alley.  You want to clearly outline what the goal is – knock down all 10 pins in 2 or less shots by rolling the ball.  And you also want to define the boundaries for them to work within – like setting up the bumper guards in the lane.  However, after that, you want to leave it to them to decide how to get the ball down the lane to accomplish the goal.  Do they roll it fast or slow, do they use curve balls or straight shots, do they bank it off of the bumper guards several times – these decisions should be left in their hands. Enable Team Micro-Monitoring for Accountability – One of the biggest fears when managing a team of remote employees is that they won’t be working and getting the job done when you can’t see them. Unfortunately, this fear can lead to micro-managing employees, which can lead to the direct results you are trying to avoid.  Instead of micro-managing employees, have them micro-monitor themselves.  Have them hold themselves accountable to their goals and have them report their success, or lack of, to you each week.  By clearly setting goals and providing a weekly status report to you, they will hold themselves accountable for their goal attainment.  No one wants to come to their manager and tell them they did a bad job.   Everyone wants to be able to take pride in their achievements.  Having them keep and report their weekly goal attainment status keeps them self-motivated to reach those goals. Ongoing Socratic Coaching – Teleworking employees need to learn how to make the correct decisions in the absence of their manager. The best way to prepare them for this is through Socratic coaching.  This coaching method is designed to coach through self-discovery by asking the employee open ended questions to teach a thinking process that enables them to make better decisions in future. Motivate Rather than Move Employees – What many call motivation is often really movement. It is the carrot and stick approach.  If an employee does something, they receive a reward, or if they don’t, it’s a punishment.  This method must be continuously re-charged, which can quickly fail when employees are not always in the same office.  Instead, it’s important to motivate remote working employees by developing their pride and self-esteem in what they do.   This is self-charged and will deliver longer lasting motivation.  Develop employees pride through giving them ownership of their job through decision making and idea sharing.  Also find ways to give them praise and a sense of accomplishment. Create Trust – Trust is critical for teleworking employees to work well as a team and as individuals. Without daily face-to-face contact, trust is more vulnerable to break-down.  It takes forever to build trust, but can be destroyed in a minute.  Remote employees in particular need to know that their manager respects and trusts them to carry out every day work functions, with little or no supervision.  They also

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Management, Virtual Employee Management

Creating Accountability with a Distributed Workforce

When the term Micro-Manager is mentioned, it incites painful ideas of a manager that is smothering, controlling and demotivating.  But the conundrum for most managers of field teams or distributed workforces is how to ensure that the job is getting done without over managing.  Because a team of employees, spread across multiple locations, is not as easy to monitor with drop-in daily observations, like a centrally located team, many managers can overcompensate by trying to over control those things that they cannot see.  Manager’s want their teams to reach all set goals, but without smothering them. The key to ensuring management’s happiness with a team’s performance levels as well as the team’s happiness with their ability to spread their wings, is a combination of clearly outlining goals, creating responsibility, and generating individual accountability. Setting the vision & creating expectations A good vision creates inspiration and motivation for a team which creates the catalyst to drive a team’s performance.  When setting a vision, keep it at top level goals, not the specific tasks it takes to reach them (this is covered next).  Because a remote team is more at risk for feeling disconnected from the company, they can tend to focus more time and energy on things that they perceive to be important but that might not really be of the most importance to the team or company.  So setting a vision, and keeping a remote team focused on it, is critical to the team and company’s success. Once the vision is set and communicated, expectations need to be created to define how the remote team will reach that vision.  Every employee wants to do a good job, but they need to know what that looks like to obtain it.  Creating the expectations, lets each employee know what they need to do to be successful, and what the end picture will look like. Creating Responsibility If you give someone the responsibility, they will more likely than not live up to it.  However, if you don’t trust them with the responsibility, then they will never have a chance to reach it.  Take a simple scenario observed at a corporate meeting where all sales people across the country met semi-annually to discuss the new product line and strategy.  At this meeting, for the first 2 days, after every 10 minute break, the regional managers would go out to find their employees and alert them that the break was over and they needed to get back into the meeting room.  As a result, over 75% of the sales reps never returned on time to the meeting and waited for their manager to alert them to return.  They were conditioned that the manager would let them know, so they didn’t need to take the responsibility to look at their watches to see when 10 minutes was up.   This approach removed the responsibility from the sales reps and placed it on the regional managers. On the 3rd and 4th days, the regional managers took a different approach; they didn’t alert anyone when breaks were over and just started the meeting on time – even if everyone was not in the room.  Those that arrived late (after the allotted 10 minutes for the break) had to disrupt the meeting to get to their seat.  Those that arrived late more than once over the 2 days, were pulled aside on the next break for a discussion with the manager on the importance of being on time.  By the end of the 4th day and the last (5th day) of the meeting, not one employee returned late to the meeting after break times.  With the regional managers shifting the responsibility to the sales reps, it freed up their (the managers) time and made the sales reps responsible for their own actions.  The key to this was setting the expectation and holding them accountable if they didn’t reach it. This is a good example of a micro vs non-micro management approach.  Releasing yourself from these micro management tasks frees up your time to focus on more important things.   Increasing team member responsibility creates less management needs. Accountability – Micro-monitoring vs micro-managing Setting clear goals is like a virtual manager that keeps everyone focused without having to constantly look over their shoulder.  However if you set these goals but don’t implement some sort of accountability and tracking system, YOU will ultimately have to be that system.  This means a very time consuming, management intensive process of nagging employees, to inquire on how they are doing toward their goals, and micro-managing to ensure goals are met.  The more you can empower your employees to track their own progress (with a simple delivery method to you), the better results you will get: They will manage themselves They will be more self motivated to reach their goals You will empower them to be responsible for themselves which will demonstrate your respect and trust for them You can free up your time to work with them on more productive items such as their talent development Shared accountability creates a feeling of partnership with each team member.  It also enables people to learn from both their successes and mistakes.  So rather than micro-managing a team, a manager can enable them to micro-monitor their own individual performance. To do this successfully, managers need to implement a tool that helps employees track their own progress.  This tool should also be something that they can deliver to you with minimal effort.  It should not be too time consuming and should be easy to decipher for both you and your employee.  An Excel spreadsheet or Word table are good vehicles, or possibly an automated intranet system if that is available to the company.  These should be completed and submitted weekly and monthly to keep everyone on track.  Here are some things to consider when deciding what goals you would like them to track: Specific – Clearly outline the details of each goal so they know what to strive for.

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Virtual Employee Management

Communication techniques to build respect and trust with a remote workforce

Managing a remote workforce can be challenging, especially when you can’t physically walk down the hall to see what they are doing.  How can you trust that they are getting the job done?  The starting point for any relationship is trust and respect.  Without daily face-to-face contact, these are more vulnerable to break-down in remote teams.  Field employees in particular need to know that their manager respects and trusts them to carry out everyday work functions, with little or no supervision.   This is also the catalyst to keep them self motivated when you are not around.  In the same token, managers need to know their employees are doing the job.  So how can you build a relationship of trust and respect with your employees to ensure that they are self-motivated and driven toward achieving goals, with a high level of integrity? Creating an environment of accountability and motivation, for your remote team, starts with how you communicate with them.  Your communication style sets the tone for how you want your team to communicate with each other and you.  It will either encourage them to talk to each other, or shut them down and isolate them – which destroys team trust and motivation.  There are 7 key communication techniques you can use to help generate this respect, trust, and motivation. Keep all promises and respond to employees in timely manner – Don’t make a promise to an employee that you can’t keep, even if it is a small item. If you say you will get them something by Tuesday, then do so.  If you e-mail an employee with a request for response, how soon do you expect them to get back to you?  If your expectations are 24 hours, then that is the same response time you should hold yourself to.  They will mirror your behavior in the pattern you set. Set consistent communication schedules with your employees – Schedule weekly meetings or one-on-one phone calls with your employees. Setting consistent schedules helps give the employee a routine when they know they will be able to get in contact with you to discuss needed items.  This also helps ensure they feel connected to you and the team, and keeps them on track with the overall team goals.  Remote employees can easily lose sight of the company goals by focusing on what they think is important.  Having a weekly reinforcement with their manager, keeps them from veering off track.  Remote employees need more communication not less, than those in the same office.  Setting weekly communication schedules ensures they are each getting the contact they need. Stick to your employee appointments– Don’t change your scheduled employee calls and meetings unless it’s an emergency. If you often change scheduled time with them, it will give the indication to employees that the meetings are not very important, which will encourage them to also find excuses to reschedule.  It sends the message that you don’t think they are a high priority or as important as other things you need to do.  Let them know you respect their time, and their contributions to the team, by keeping your scheduled appointments with them. Provide details and reasons “why” for any requests – If you say to one of your employees: “Let’s have a call at 8AM tomorrow – there are some things I’d like to discuss with you.”  What types of things do you think are going through their mind?  It creates a stress level in your employee and sets false conceptions.  This type of request will also give the message to your employee that you don’t respect them enough to tell them the reasons you want to talk with them.  Instead, give them the reasons why or as many details as possible.  For example: “Let’s have a call at 8AM tomorrow to plan our strategy for the next client meeting we have coming up.”  Telling your employees the reasons why behind things also builds their buy in and support of ideas.  If someone were to ask to cut in front of you in a line, most of us would say “no.”  However, if they gave a good reason as to why they needed to, we would be more apt to let them in, and do so without resentment.  Giving your employees reasons behind decisions and directives will not only let them know you respect them, but will build their willing support. Ask rather than tell – Asking your employees to do something, rather than telling them, builds buy in and accountability. Asking an employee to cover a client issue, doesn’t mean they won’t do it.  Because their manager is making the request, they will inherently say “yes.”  However, if you ask rather than tell them, then the employee has committed themselves by agreeing, and they are more likely to hold themselves accountable, rather than you having to doing so.   Individuals are more motivated to accomplish tasks they have been asked to do rather than been told to do. Write positive e-mails – E-mails will always come across 10 times more negative than intended, which can be an issue in a virtual environment where e-mail becomes a heavily depended on communication tool. To avoid a negative miscommunication, try to be overly positive when you write e-mails.  Use exclamation points, use “hi” or “good morning”, say “thanks!”, use humor or positive feedback.  Make it a pleasure to do business with you.  You want your employees to look forward to your e-mails rather than dread them.  Consider re-reading specifically sensitive e-mails or have someone else give you their perception before sending. Ask them for their advice, opinion, and feedback – It can be especially hard to transition from a role as a peer to a role as a manger of those peers. How do you build respect from them in your new role?  This item is one of the best ways to help you do that, as well as build ongoing respect.  We value people who value us.  If

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Virtual Employee Management

Communicating with Remote Teams – How Much is Enough?

When managing virtual teams, how much communication is enough?  And when should you use the different vehicles for your communication:  E-mail, Phone, face-to-face? There are 2 common mistakes made, when communicating with remote teams, which revolve around frequency and timing.  Most people managing virtual teams assume they will have less communication with their employees.  The opposite is true.  Successful remote managers actually have more communication with their teams than those that work in the same office.  So remote employee managers need to make a concerted effort to communicate more with their remote employees. Also, remote managers tend to delay key communication until they know they will see their employees face to face, or until they conduct the next weekly call.  This can be a mistake because it sets the precedence with remote workers that they work differently when outside of the office.  If you would walk down the hall to talk with an employee, then don’t wait until a future time when they will be physically present, to speak to them.  Instead, just change the communication vehicle, and pick up the phone instead.  Delaying communication creates a gap between the virtual employees and the office or other workers.  That gap needs to be bridged, by utilizing different communication vehicles, to keep conversations as active as in the office. Here is a quick guide for when to use each type of communication vehicle: Email – You should have daily communication with your employees via email– either with a team email or individual.  This is to show presence and let them know you are working beside them, even if they can’t see you.  These can include feedback, information notices, best practice ideas, praise. Keep in mind that you lose most of your message when communicating via email (65% of a message is conveyed through your non-verbal actions).  Email is like communicating through a straw – much of the message is filtered out as it is pushed through a more limited channel.  The recipient receives that message through the straw and adds their own interpretations of intentions, attributions, and judgments to them – due to the more limited information received. This can be a dangerous scenario since often those recipient add-ins are not accurate. Phone – You should have weekly communication with your virtual employees via phone, both one-on-one and as a team.  A weekly team call should be used to discuss goals and team info, feedback sharing, and building the team community.  One-on-one calls should be used for ongoing development and individual updates. Face to face – Remote employee managers should meet with each employee once per quarter, one-on-one and as a team, at least once or twice a year, if not once a quarter. Webinars – Webinars can be a nice hybrid between phone calls and face to face, allowing you to add a visual aspect to your calls.  They can be used when visual communication is required (such as demonstrations) or by using web cams to visually see virtual employees.  However, these should not replace the face to face team meeting. When managing virtual teams, it is important to increase communication, and to not delay it, by utilizing all available vehicles when needed.by Jenny Douras For more on Remote Employee Management, take the online course at http://www.remoteemployeemanagement.com/ For more on Communication Topics, take the online course at  Professional Development Communication SeriesOr call for private group training 303-900-0850

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Virtual Employee Management

Building a Team Culture with Remote Employees

Because employees of a distributed workforce are in different locations, it is tougher for them to feel a part of the company and team, which is critical to their overall motivation and drive behind company initiatives.  That is why it takes a concentrated effort by remote managers to build a team community and culture for their employees.  Many remote employees feel left out when they hear of their office or others that have company events such as:  ditch days, breakfast or lunch brought in, costume contests, in office birthday celebrations, happy hours, bring your pet or child to work day, etc. . . These social engagements help to build that community in an office, but there are things that a remote manager can do to build that culture and community, for their team, as well. Create and encourage inter-team communication – Communication amongst a distributed employee base helps to build camaraderie. This strengthens the team by fostering an environment where the team members rely on each other for help, support and ideas.  This helps build trust within the team and fosters internal team partnerships to make it stronger and more productive. Partner remote employees for projects – Find reasons to partner employees on the team, especially those that do not always work together, for projects. This can include mentoring, developing best practices, or preparing topics to present to the rest of the team on a conference call. Create virtual water coolers – All of that time-consuming small talk that happens at the “water cooler” in office environments has an important purpose that is missed in distributed teams – it builds the team camaraderie and culture. A remote manager can find ways to create virtual environment to foster this “small talk.” Plan a small amount of “open time” at the beginning or end of team conference calls for small talk. User ice breakers, openers, and getting to know you exercises and games during team gatherings, calls, interactions, etc. . . This can also include a virtual bulletin board to post “getting to know you” related info about team members. Find opportunities to celebrate together virtually by sending out team congratulatory emails, or on conference calls. One company sent out Starbucks gift cards for their next team call so everyone could have “breakfast together” on the call. Re-live the past – Find opportunities to re-live shining moments from the team’s past. This brings back positive memories of the group and will help to renew that feeling again.  This can be highlighting accomplishments made by the entire team, or even one employee.  Even funny things that happened to team members when they were last together.  Think of the memories that strengthen the bond with your group of personal friends.  Talking about these always bring back those happy feelings of belonging to something good.  One item to avoid that can be a common pitfall of new managers in building a team: avoid pitting the team against another in comments and remarks, such as “our team is better than theirs,” or “this is the best team in the company.”  This alienates other co-workers and the company.  Although competitiveness can be a strong motivator, competitiveness such as this within the company can have potential negative effects in the future.  What if a member of one of those other teams now becomes a member of yours, or vice versa?  It will make it that much harder to assimilate them into the new team that they are an “outsider” of.   Managers should tell a team how fantastic they are, but not at the demise or lacking of another. by Jenny Douras For more on Remote Employee Management, take the online course at http://www.remoteemployeemanagement.com/ Or call for private group training 303-900-0850

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Management, Virtual Employee Management

The ROI of an Off-Site Employee Structure – Arguments for the change

When considering a change to an off-site vs. on site employee structure, how do you know if it is right for the company?  Or how to you make the argument to executive management that it will be.  Some of the argument involves a shift in how we define work.  Also to consider, is how it can benefit the overall quality of service and costs to the organization.  Following are some new ways to define “work” as well as arguments for the change. First, companies that are not used to an off-site or virtual employee structure, may need to consider a through process change, in how they view and define work.  In the book “Managing the Mobile Workforce”, by David Clemons and Michale Kroth, they discuss some of the old assumptions and new ways to look at how we define work.  Some of those old assumptions are included on the left in the below diagram, with a new perspective on the right: If you challenge these old assumptions, and are able to view them differently, you will find that many work roles could be moved to an off-site/teleworker structure. We also should consider the benefits of going to a remote worker format when deciding if it is right for the company.   Companies with a virtual (off-site) workforce realize a decrease in many costs such as office space, healthcare, travel, and employee retention.  Also, employees are happier with an improved work life balance, and are more motivated and productive.  It can also improve customer relationships by allowing employees to be closer to client locations, and can help with internal change management such as a change in company office location or work environment, since it will not impact remote employees as much. The federal government has implemented an aggressive Teleworker plan over the past few years.  They submit an annual report that you can find on telework.gov, which includes measured results.  Some of the benefits they highlighted in their 2012 report include: 70% of managers and 80% of employees found that their productivity increased They saved over 2 million dollars in electricity costs They decreased their resignation rate by over 6% Unless an employee has a position that requires physical location work, such as construction, or hospital patient care, etc., it is hard to not make the argument for a remote workforce structure.  It allows companies to stay competitive, reduce costs, and hire and retain top talent. by Jenny Douras For more on Remote Employee Management, take the online course at http://www.remoteemployeemanagement.com/ Or call for private group training 303-900-0850

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Scheduling Calendar Days in MS Project

Normally, when we schedule work in a Project file, it is done on business day. This is common due to the fact that most companies have at least two days off each week. These days are typically Saturdays and Sundays in the business world, but business days can vary based on which part of the world a company resides or functions. Regardless, for Project, business days are different from calendar days, as calendar days include “weekends.” Keeping in mind that business days are normal for most companies, calendar days tend to be used less, but this does not mean calendar days should never be used for scheduling. Also, some companies have shift crews that allow a company to operate 24 hours a day for seven days a week. Every day for these companies would be considered a business day. (This can be a bit of a conflict for projects, but Microsoft Project does allow for setting up companies with specific calendars, which is a tip for another time.) Follow the steps below to change business days, which is Project’s default unit of measure, to show calendar days. In our example, we used a template from Project, which shows tasks that are created with normal business days: Note that the seven days for task 2 does not include Saturday and Sunday, depicting seven business days. If we change the unit of measure to 7 edays, it will include Saturday and Sunday, which looks like this: Learn more ways to make MS Project work for you with a training class from MCT.

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