It's time to activate your remote workforce

Post by Max Goodberg, Co-founder & COO
It's time to activate your remote workforce

We’re all working from home, what happens next?

Let’s fast forward through the usual COVID-19 dialogue. It’s here and it’s impacting how a lot of us work. For the first few weeks that means how we connect but what comes after that?

  • How do initiatives get planned, prioritized, and staffed effectively? 
  • How can employees stay engaged (not just be present) with the day-to-day of the company?  
  • How do you advance critical course-of-business tasks while promoting personal development now that talent and opportunities are increasingly isolated?

Answering these questions effectively is the difference between just making it through this difficult period and being able to capitalize by evolving into a stronger and more adaptable organization. A well coordinated distributed workforce can be an organization’s greatest competitive advantage and those that capitalize will emerge more agile with flexible, strong cultural bonds and a focus on getting things done.

tl;dr (too long; didn’t read)

While there are numerous long term advantages, moving to a distributed team & remote work culture can lead to disconnection and a slowdown of performance when it's needed most.  Now more than ever employees need to be connected and given a chance to step up and help their organization pull through a challenging time. Standing up a project marketplace engages your remote workforce and brings disparate resources together while ensuring business performance.

What makes managing a distributed environment hard(er)?

In distributed environments it’s all too easy for internal networks to be exclusionary especially as tasks become more complex. A group of leads and key stakeholders can sit through a grueling planning session over videoconference, assign the usual team players and get the next round of business needs moving, but a lot of serious questions arise:

  • How connected will the majority of your employees feel to the company when this exercise repeats itself several times with the same people getting tapped?
  • How quickly will that reduce perceptions and then realities about employee development and opportunity?
  • How will you get everything done when your go-to’s are already allocated and capacity is already reduced?

Family comes first and employees have caretaking they must do in the coming months. You will need more people to do the same amount of work and you need to make informed, fair decisions about who those people are.  Equitable consideration, diversity in teams and being inclusive is more important than ever in an environment where every employee is inherently feeling distanced.

Everybody might be virtually “connected” but actual visibility into business needs and management’s effectiveness in communicating them are critical. People can’t raise their hands if they don’t know something is there and organizations becoming highly dependent on a handful of people owning communication and contribution creates a huge bottleneck at best and single-point-of-failure at worst.

Let’s get tactical: standing up a project marketplace!

We’ve compiled a list of internal mobility best practices that apply especially well in this environment.  These tips focus on how to make business needs visible through a project “marketplace” and get employees involved.

  1. Identify an executive sponsor.  They could be the lead of your department (this could be you), someone on the People team or even the CEO.  Even as a win-win for the company and employees, the company should be behind the program every step of the way. Executives will be looking for tangible ways to adapt and make a difference, it’s a great time to get buy-in with a measured, well thought-through program.
  2. Compile an initial set of projects/initiatives that are high priority and would benefit from cross-team involvement from one or more participating groups. Start with a manageable set of 5-10 and rank them.  You can add more after you get going. If some of the initiatives are several months of work, consider breaking them down into smaller focused sets of tasks like an engineering team would with large features.  These are easier for employees to evaluate, understand how they could participate, and give/get quick feedback.
  3. Assign a program manager or lead the initiative by writing a brief description of needs, like you would a job description, and posting it to a central location where others at home can easily find, understand and consider them.
  4. Socialize the initiative and agree with functional leadership what employee participation means.  Once this is clear, communicate the goals of the program to participating group employees, how this fits with their current priorities, and how they can view and apply to opportunities.
  5. Be responsive and gather data.  Making sure people who raise their hand know where they stand in consideration and learning how the process goes for them means you can iterate.  It doesn’t have to be perfect! Use real data to improve the next round and gather focused feedback from non-selected applicants + approved participants to make sure you keep bias to a minimum.

Moving from scrappy tests to long-term sustainability

Regardless of how we got here there are tremendous benefits to a remote-friendly, dynamic resourcing culture:

  • A two-year study by Stanford found productivity gains of a full day per week and 50% decrease in attrition by home-based workers.
  • As you’d expect there are less sick days taken and an estimated $5 billion in savings for U.S. based companies with employees who work remotely.
  • A study by Fundera found that amongst younger workers 68% said remote options greatly impact their decisions whether or not to work for a company.
  • Companies with remote workers benefit from greater diversity with removal of geographical hiring constraints and a greater talent pool for things like closing the gender gap. In a UK study, 76% of women in technology surveyed said a remote work option is increasingly necessary to attract and maintain female talent in the industry.

While you can get going with a spreadsheet or an internal wiki page for starters, the challenge with this method is administration time, tracking everything that’s going on so things don’t fall through the cracks, lack of consistency and potentially the ability to comply with corporate policies.

Flux enables dynamic resourcing at scale and optimizes for your employee experience and our platform handles the pieces that get complex:

  • Can I find other people who work at my company?  Who’s here who could participate in my project? How do they like to think, work and interact with others and what have they done before?
  • Who wants to be considered for what and where are they in the process?  Internal candidates should be clearly communicated with and responses kept timely.
  • Who has completed work and how is that represented?
  • How do we understand and report on program activity for things like engagement, applications, success and trending sentiment?
  • How do we provide fair consideration throughout?  How can I access amazing talent that wouldn’t know to or feel comfortable raising their hand for an opportunity?

We would love to help you get started, expand what you’ve begun or scale it up. From advice and best practices to starting a holistic opportunity marketplace within your organization, we are here for you.

Flux has helped global enterprise organizations go from nothing to hundreds of projects staffed within weeks, not months.

We’ll get through this together.


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