From an employee’s perspective, there is plenty to like about working at rotating job sites. The tasks are constantly changing and no two days are the same. Work day start and end times vary, and projects also come and go. While this provides a lot of excitement and diversity for the worker, what’s it like from a manager’s perspective?
In some industries, having workers span different locations is the status quo – such as in fields like construction, catering and the trades (i.e. plumbers, electricians, home remodelers) – while in white-collar industries, most employees are office-bound. As a business expands, it is virtually impossible to be at each job site overseeing everyone on the team, yet this type of accountability is critical in most industries.
Here are a few chief considerations to foster more effective workforce management when most of your team spends their days at remote job sites.
Communication is the foundation of management. Even if you don’t need to be in frequent contact with your mobile workers, you need the ability to be able to reach them at a moment's notice and make sure that everybody is on the same page. Poor communication, in any profession, leads to wasted labor and money, but it can result in particularly disastrous results in the building trades.
Technology is what underpins real-time communication and collaboration efforts for any business. Workforce management platforms that allow coworkers to stay in constant communication have allowed businesses to cut down on the lost time and costs often associated with less efficient communications methods, such as frequent meetings, endless email threads and constant phone tags.
Clear, digestible and centralized communication is what Timesheet Mobile’s Project+ feature is all about. For example, Project+ provides team chat capabilities, allowing businesses to send private messages to coworkers or directly to specific users. Messages can be automatically translated from English into Spanish, French or German facilitating communication in spite of language barriers that may exist among coworkers.
Big goals and vision
One of the critical factors to success is undoubtedly setting business goals. When specific, measurable and results-focused goals are established, it gives everyone a clear sense of direction and helps them to strive to do their best.
For senior leadership, it’s important to set the company’s mission and strategy, and convey this to all employees. From here, managers can help employees set goals that align with the higher level objectives, and also allow workers to set goals for themselves. By providing employees with more opportunity and autonomy to create their own goals, they’re more likely to take ownership of them.
On a day-to-day basis, managers and employees can create and share checklists with other teammates, keeping track of individual tasks. When somebody finishes a task, they can scratch it off the list so that everybody else knows it’s done. The entire team is literally on the same page to support the bigger picture.
There are few better ways to motivate an employee than by showing them that you appreciate their hard work. That doesn’t change if you are on two different work sites. Employees work harder when they feel they’re working for somebody who cares about them.
This could be as simple as talking to your employees face-to-face whenever possible, such as dropping in at the job site for a few minutes to chat with individual workers. It could be remembering major personal and professional milestones – such as birthdays or work anniversaries – and celebrating them as a team. Or it could be taking the team out for lunch or drinks after a major project wraps up to thank them for their hard work.
Not everything needs to be about momentous occasions, however. The classical annual performance review is steadily being replaced by real-time employee feedback. With this evolution, it may not be prudent to wait for the next in-person meeting. Don’t hesitate to message a junior teammate or your entire team to acknowledge them for a job well done.
Employee time tracking
Perhaps the oldest and most obvious concern about remote workers is that lack of supervision will lead to lack of accountability. There’s certainly an element of trust that is needed to feel confident that everyone on the team is working to complete the project at hand.
Timesheet Mobile’s workforce management app allows mobile workers to punch in and punch out of work on their own smartphones. Just as important, an employer can easily set up a geofence around any work site. The employee will receive a notification on their phone when they enter and leave the site, reminding them to punch in or out. That also lets the employer know if the employee was at the job site and how much time they spent working there.
Again, putting reasonable accountability measures in place still demands a sensitive approach. Invite workers to voice any concerns or questions they have about the new technology. Provide them with information on what geofences do and, perhaps just as importantly, what they don’t do. Integratating an employee time tracking system allows you to compare hours worked with project completion times. In Timesheet Mobile’s case, the app does not track employees unless they’re punched in. Make it clear that workers should not have to worry about their boss tracking them during after-work hours.
Outside-of-work gatherings are often particularly appreciated by mobile workers. If you have a disparate team, it’s a chance to interact face-to-face with those on other project teams or with management.
Happy hours, holiday parties or weekend outings can be a great way to establish stronger bonds between workers, reduce employee stress, and get to know others in a more casual setting. People appreciate building connections and having conversations that don’t always revolve around work.
Beyond the obvious ideas, there are plenty of ways to interact outside of the office. Volunteering time to support a good cause, or skills-based volunteering is a novel way to build camaraderie. You could also consider team-building activities – such as scavenger hunts, cooking classes, or professional development workshops. Attending a concert together or organizing a recreational sports team are other fun ways to get to know your peers.
Running a company takes a lot of work, but successful leaders will always prioritize making sure their organizations are well-balanced and their employees are fulfilled. Even if your workers are more often at a job site than not, there are many ways to bring everyone together as a team.