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Insights

Three Pitfalls Facing the Federal Distributed Workforce

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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The benefits of a distributed workforce are many: cost savings, employee flexibility, and increased job satisfaction, to name a few. Not often discussed are the challenges of managing a distributed workforce. However, the Government Executive article, “How to Run a Team of People Who Never See Each Other,” outlines three areas of potential pitfalls: technology, communication, and culture. Here’s a synopsis:

Technology

The proper technology to keep people connected is essential to a successful remote workforce transition. It is well-worth the significant up-front costs to get the best equipment that will get the job done for your workforce. Dropped calls and intermittent access to an organization’s servers will soon kill any productivity gains anticipated by the move to a remote workforce.

Communication

Frequent and clear communication is absolutely essential for your remote workforce. The lines of communication between headquarters and the field, management and teams, and between members of distributed teams need to be open and transparent.

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Without clear lines of communication, duplication of effort and confusion, particularly with teams that are widely geographically dispersed, can abound. Frequent status meetings and clear goals and expectations are two means toward making sure that everyone is clear about working toward the same goals.

Culture

Don’t create two classes of workers. Your remote workforce and your main office employees need to understand that they are on the same team with the same impact and responsibilities toward the organization.

To learn more about the challenges and best practices of working with distributed teams, check out the Distributed Workforce Track at Government Workforce taking place on September 3rd in Washington, D.C. We will explore how to create a supportive organizational culture for distributed teams, how to develop “best in class” training for distributed teams and employees, and other issues critical to distributed workforces.

Register by August 1 for early bird rates at http://www.astd.org/Events/Government-Workforce/Register.

About the Author
Alicia Dickerson is Content Acquisition Editor for The Public Manager and the Government Sector at ATD.  Previously, she worked in content delivery and as a consultant to federal government clients. Contact her at adickerson@td.org.
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