Managing the workforce is challenging, but things are more complicated when your workers are distributed at several locations. In industries like construction, retail, and facility management, workers are distributed over sites in different locations, resulting in inefficiencies in business management processes unless the distributed team challenges are met with strategy and planning.
This article will list the most commonly occurring challenges for distributed teams and explore solutions to manage and run distributed workforce effectively.
Table of Contents
Six distributed team challenges and how to manage them
1. Poor communication with staff
A distributed team will have workers at different geolocations, and most communication will likely happen through messaging or over call. The absence of face-to-face communication creates an opportunity for miscommunication if no body language is at play.
It is common for managers and supervisors to accidentally convey a tone other than what they mean. This creates resentment or distress among workers and can result in unnecessary conflicts or confrontations. The solution is to implement measures to avoid miscommunication by ensuring the right message is conveyed to the workers at the site.
You can plan training sessions for managers and supervisors to let them know how to communicate better with workers and what kind of tone to avoid. Also, supervisors must be encouraged to communicate with workers and laborers on video calls so the workers can better interpret their facial expressions.
2. Time management
Your teams will work in different time zones if you have globally distributed manufacturing units or work sites. As a manager, getting a quick response from workers will be difficult. Similarly, it can be challenging to simultaneously initiate and deliver training programs to all members in every time zone.
Time management is a significant distributed team challenge when dealing with workers working in different time zones but are part of the same team. Also, mastering the digital work environment is crucial. You must implement a different shift schedule across multiple time zones. Also, the overtime rules will vary in these zones. The solution to time management distributed team challenges is to choose a time during everyone’s typical daytime work hours.
It can be morning for some workers, afternoon, or early evening for others. You might have to record training sessions for teams in vastly different time zones so workers can access them later. In addition, you can maximize productivity by creating shifts such that workers in the same teams are working the same hours.
3. Keeping up with compliance regulations
If your workforce is distributed over different locations within the same country or internationally, keeping up with the compliance regulations is challenging. Every state has its own set of labor and federal laws. Employers must comply with every labor-management law to avoid lawsuits.
A 2019 Global Teams study by the Society for Human Resources (SHRM) and Globalization Partners found that over 40% of companies find dealing with international labor and business laws overwhelming. One of the best ways to deal with compliance regulations if you manage an international workforce is to hire an employer of record (EOR) service.
These services provide an easy solution to handle payroll, contracts, and other administrative tasks while complying with local and international labor laws.
4. Lack of skilled workforce
It is plausible that not at all locations skilled workforce will be available easily. This causes a challenge for managers to balance the skilled and unskilled workers for the projects.
The easiest way to deal with this distributed team challenge is to create training programs. Developing the workers’ skills at the site is the most efficient way to manage the skill distribution gap. You can also create diverse training programs to better utilize a unique set of skills or cultural diversity the workers might bring to the team.
5. Productivity issues
When managers or supervisors are not located on-site, it can be challenging to maintain a productive work environment. Laborers and workers at remote sites can only be sincere with their work if there are measures to track their location and activities. It is one of the significant distributed team challenges to maintain a productive environment for remote workers.
Workers at remote locations need help maintaining the task at hand because they feel a supervisor’s or manager’s impending authority. To make workers accountable for their work, companies can deploy employee monitoring solutions such as Truein. It is a complete employee time and attendance management solution that provides geofencing and GPS-tracking features.
Its real-time location and attendance tracking feature helps the manager to maintain productivity at the site. Truein is a cloud-based software solution that can be deployed at any remote worksite without any hardware. Workers can download the Truein app on their smartphones and use its AI-based facial recognition system to clock in.
6. Scheduling geographically distributed teams
Shift scheduling is challenging when you have a distributed team. When workers are at different locations but are working on the same project, it can be challenging to schedule with the workers. For instance, in an automobile manufacturing company, only some parts are manufactured within the same unit.
In the engine assembly line, molding of the parts and the assembly of the engine often occur at different locations. However, these two teams must work in sync to ensure that all the measurements and adjustments are accurate. This present distributed team challenges for scheduling the workers.
The solution to engage geographically distributed team members is to focus on scheduling appropriately, so their shifts coincide. Truein can help you with shift scheduling as well. It can create a schedule and share it with the workers instantly. You can also create shift schedules for contractual workers from the same dashboard, even if they are not part of the full-time workforce.
Distribute teams present opportunities and associated challenges as well. The distributed team challenges we have listed here are the most common. We hope the solutions we have shared will help you to deal with these challenges and maintain a productive and progressive workforce.