How to Build an Effective Team Across Multiple Locations
Managing an office can be tough on a regular day. Now, imagine that you’re trying to coordinate a team across multiple locations.
Moreover, what if a team in another location also hired remote workers? That is becoming an increasingly common work arrangement. There are some teams that have certain members working from an office and others working remotely, sometimes in a different time zone. There may be a remote work and multiple office combination, or even a scenario where there are satellite teams spread out across certain territories.
In flourishing businesses with teams across multiple locations, there are so many schedules, time zones, and tasks to manage, that it takes a seasoned manager to properly organize everything.
In today’s article, we will examine how to build an effective team across multiple locations using some common sense approaches, but also by leveraging technology.
Standardize Processes and Systems
To build an effective team across multiple locations, it’s important to understand that each location will have its own culture and specific needs. Every team will develop its own personality. Each team will also have specific needs.
Sometimes, teams that work from different locations may carry out the same functions. Other times, they may have very different functions.
In one location, communication may flow freely and the team might be tight-knit. On the other hand, a second location may have more reserved team members who are lone wolves and like to stay in the corner.
However, when it comes to certain basic processes, it’s crucial to keep things standardized. Having non-standard processes, particularly for HR functions, can lead to issues and even legal repercussions.
The key to managing teams effectively across multiple locations is to implement and maintain a few standard operating procedures (SOP).
When dealing with a team across multiple locations, a procedure that is worth standardizing is employee onboarding. It is recommended to have all of your SOPs mapped out in an Employee Handbook, that your team members receive when on-boarding the team.
Pick a Leave Management System
When you’re dealing with a team across multiple locations, keeping track of schedules and maintaining management systems can be particularly difficult. A team scheduling tool or a leave management system would be ideal to keep things in order.
When selecting this tool, make sure that it can handle the size of your team, and ideally that it is a web-based tool. A web-based tool allows all team members to access the tool at any time.
The tool you select should also be highly user-friendly. Other handy features would be the ability to make instant adjustments, send reminders or notifications, and be accessible on mobile devices.
For example, the Vacation Tracker integration for Slack is a perfect leave management tool for teams in several locations. It helps to plan and track leave requests for a team of any size. It also has timely notifications to prevent any out-of-office surprises.
Moreover, Vacation Tracker can be accessed from anywhere, just like Slack. Therefore, it’s a convenient solution, for teams in multiple offices, or even for remote workers.
It can be stressful enough to have a team across multiple locations, but leave management shouldn’t be something to worry about. Automation of simple processes is becoming highly affordable.
What’s more, these services offer solutions to improve communications and information sharing amongst employees. There are many good reasons to automate simple processes such as leave management. In fact, with proper systems in place, managers can focus on the issues that really matter.
Provide a Management Framework
When it comes to managing a team across multiple locations, it’s no cakewalk for the manager. It requires a high degree of focus and commitment.
Indeed, managers of multiple teams sometimes have to travel for meetings, or have to plan regular Skype or Slack calls. They have to hold effective and inspiring conference calls in order to keep their team members engaged. Especially when communicating mainly by phone or online, it’s tough to make one’s presence felt. Not every manager can easily adjust to this management framework.
Teams in multiple locations may have fewer face-to-face interactions with their managers. Nevertheless, they still need a formal structure to provide project updates. Therefore, it’s important for their manager, whether on-site or elsewhere to keep a rigorous meeting schedule. Moreover, team members in any location should have easy access to their manager, no matter where he or she is located.
Indeed, it is crucial that team members who are operating from multiple offices sense that there is a sense of unity at the managerial level. Without this unity, it is a lot less likely that the team will work effectively toward the desired results.
Delegate Some Managerial Duties
Of course, planning meetings and organizing calls are useful. Yet, with that being said, it’s important to let the teams work independently as well. Overdoing it can, not only cause stress on the manager, but it will also put stress on the team. Nobody enjoys being told what to do or being overmanaged. So, it is important to strike a balance.
One great way to do so is to delegate some managerial duties, or to grow the management structure.
If you have to build and manage an effective team across multiple locations, it’s probably because business is going rather well. If that is the case, then it should be possible to delegate some of the manager’s duties to an assistant manager in a new location.
Still, this new junior manager can report to your more experienced manager. However, he or she can deal with the location-specific issues, or the day-to-day responsibilities of that office.
Lastly, if promoting a person from the team is not an option, it could still be possible to hand over some of the managerial duties to employees. In fact, it can help the remote team feel more involved and invested in the business.
In a nutshell, building an effective team across multiple locations is not an easy task. However, with the right attitude, the right people, and the right mindset, anything is possible.