Tips and tools for managing remote offices
Expanding into new offices and locations is an exciting time for any business.
But it’s a minefield when it comes to managing multiple offices and the people and technology that inhabit them.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help streamline operations when you and your business are branching out.
Get tech savvy
With employees spread far and wide, the first casualty of multiple office locations is often inter-office communication. But with advances in modern IT systems, there’s no excuse for not staying in touch. Messaging systems, phone hookups and, more recently, video conferencing all make it easier than ever to reach your colleagues in a heartbeat.
Intellect IT director Max Soukhomlinov says despite the financial cost, more and more businesses are embracing video technology as a way to help everyone stay on the same page.
“We’ve set up three systems recently where the organisations aren’t from very typical types of sectors, but they’ve made that investment in video conferencing,” Soukhomlinov says.
“Each one of the offices has a dedicated video conferencing room with adequate lighting, big screens, so that the experience is great if those staff members opt to go to that room and dial other colleagues.”
Good video conferencing technology can help employees stay on the same page.
Share the love
Don’t spend every day bunkered down at your head office. If you’re an owner or manager charged with overseeing employees who work at another site, schedule meetings and site visits periodically so that each staff member feels valued.
Better yet, get everyone together once or twice a year. It’ll help everyone put some faces to names, and encourage ongoing communication.
Create an ‘office in a box’
If you’re planning to open more than one new office, don’t try to reinvent the wheel at each location. Use the same technology, email systems and even furniture so that it’s easier to manage and no one feels left out.
“If they’re able to streamline their infrastructure and streamline the various systems that they have so it becomes a ‘cookie cutter’, the easier it becomes to commission a new office and manage it,” Soukhomlinov says.
“It’s an ‘office in a box’. Then they’re not going to have instances where their staff in the remote locations have a lack of IT systems or communications systems, or feel unloved because they’re in a remote location and use that as an excuse for why they’re not able to do what they need to.”
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Hire someone who knows your business
You wouldn’t let a stranger organise your birthday party, so you might want to think twice before putting an outsider in charge of managing the systems and setup at your new offices.
Soukhomlinov says the best way to ensure you get the greatest result for your business and its growing site base is to pay a trusted employee to act as an in-house manager.
“You can’t compete with someone who works full-time in the business, sits next to people, knows what’s going on and is able to respond to business decisions,” he says.
“The most efficient way is to not necessarily look for a propellerhead who’s able to work with computers and resolve technical issues, but to look for either an in-house or existing staff member who’s been with the business for quite some time and is technologically savvy. They wear the hat of an in-house IT person, however their primary role in that case would be coordinating external service providers that would be delivering the brunt of the underlying technical work.”
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