Being remote is not short term.  Five years of digital transformation has happened in two months. Businesses will not survive by managing their companies using 20th century tactics.  All organizations are asking how to use new tools, processes and skills while their workforce is remote, hybrid, distributed, collocated or any other term that describes a team working together – apart.  In order to thrive moving forward, companies must adopt a new way of managing their teams, products, services and ideas.  The organizations that focus on digitally transforming their processes, flattening their team communication and managing quality outcomes will be wildly successful.

What is Digital Transformation?

Simply put, digital transformation is when processes, culture, business models or business outputs are digitized.  Think big: Amazon online vs Sears paper catalog. Think daily: Email vs Xeroxed memos.  Think engagement: Order and track Domino’s on your phone vs call and wait for pizza.  Think COVID: Video conferences vs conference rooms.

The examples provided should get your imagination wondering- “What could we digitally transform in our business?”  Pretend you are no longer allowed to use your office building.  What could you digitize?

How do Distributed Teams communicate effectively?

Distributed teams are employees and managers who work in separate locations.  This could be in different physical offices or from home.  The challenge of working in different locations is the need to communicate deliberately, but openly.  Teams that are successful as they work remotely do not try to replicate an office environment when they communicate.  They do not rely on the nuance of direct face to face interactions.  They communicate in a deliberate way that will not leave room for interpretation.  They understand the co-workers my time shift (work at different times due to personal obligations) and provide communications that can is not in the silo of emails so other can collaborate.

Managing outcomes and holding your team accountable.

It is apparent, when working remote, the folks that are getting their work done.  There is a spotlight on the outcomes that people are expected to deliver when social niceties are removed from office work.  Outcomes and their quality will be almost all that speak for an employee’s productivity.  Leaders and management teams should break down the work of each department into these outcomes.  The outcomes should have specific KPIs that measure their quality and success.  Additional KPIs should be measured for leading indicators of success.  An example might be:

Sales Team KPIs

Outcome:  Closed Deals

Quality KPI:  Gross Margin; Client Satisfaction, Total Contract Value

Leading Indicator KPI:  Discovery Meetings, Activities

If the team is not getting their outcomes completed, then it is important that the process is reviewed and that leaders have regular meetings with their team to hold them accountable and aid them in meeting their goals.  These meetings are deliberate and take more effort than a simple “walk-up”.  Many managers are not comfortable with these meetings, but will find them invaluable after initiating them and following through over the course of a few months.  Review the KPIs, discuss organization, require working with other team members to meet goals.  Focus on the employee as part of the total team.

When organizations take the time to transform how they work, then they will find great success in a distributed work force.