Communication in The Era of Off Site Staff
Most companies start with an idea, in one location and with the founder, and a significant other. As the company grows the staff grows, and then the company moves to an actual office. With the additional growth the company is faced with higher labor costs, when factoring in benefits. Policies unfolded which made it less expensive and feasible to have employees off site.
Twenty first century networking, computer conferencing, emails, and overnight delivery companies (UPS & FedEx) have found it to their advantage to have employees off site make it one large operation comparable to one large office.
And with further growth divisions and satellite offices may be scattered over different locations throughout the United States.
Operational ideas found to be successful in one location can now be instituted at off site locations almost instantly and with minimum expense.
Also telephone conferencing is generally available either from a service company or if big enough and affordable from software in the main office.
Communication is always front and center. There is a tendency to use emails. True emails save time and avoid confusion; but they should not be a substitute for direct contact. Personnel in different locations can get tasks accomplished when they see and hear suggestions and comments from members of the staff in other locations.
Communication skills must be honed to achieve the best dialogue, clarification of points that might be ambiguous if presented in emails. And one email requires and answer; if not specific enough a return email with further questions; all of this can be time consuming; and the higher the document flow the greater the margin of misunderstanding and inadequate performance.
An example might be the review of a product sold at one office and now to be included in satellite locations. Without a thorough review much time might be wasted without adequate communication, especially if the product is already on the shelf of the satellite office but not of the same quality. Obviously had there been better communication a smaller amount of time would have been spent to just upgrade the product sold from the satellite operation.
This seems to be such a simple concept. And that is why inadequate time and dollars are spent to utilize the best possible mode of communication.
Failure to anticipate the use of the best means of communication raises the question: “Why can’t they see the bigger picture?”
This challenge arises when a smaller group is working on a product that really required input involving more people. The latter group would have helped to create a better product if the basic steps were shared as just a foundation or beginning of bigger better end game.
Sometimes it is easy to forget that as a leader, if all your employees don’t get the bigger view, the point of their work can escape them and lead to a failure to achieve the original plan.
Understanding and mastering communication skills takes time and effort on the part of managers of projects. There are so many tools available that projects can be successfully completed with plans for the best possible vehicles to communicate.