Connecting Intelligently: How to Unite Distributed Workforces

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of collaboration and open communication, wherever workers may be located. In today’s world of remote and distributed workforces, how can companies reimagine collaboration in the workplace? Baker McKenzie’s insights paper from their 2021 FutureWorks conversation series pointed out: “when we think about collaboration, the answer is not more connection, in a burnt-out, screen-fatigued world; we know the answer is more intelligent connection.” 

Intelligent connection. Collaboration and communities. After years of research and testing, Rallyware’s Performance Enablement Platform takes a data-driven and personalized approach, paving the way for such connections to occur.

Distributed Workforce Management Challenges

Strengthening connections & bridging the digital divide

It all harkens back to socialization – an important sociological concept and a key component of an individual’s early interactions with a company. Done well, socialization creates an innate sense of membership, offering feelings of belonging which, in turn, serves as a motivational factor in the workplace. 

Distributed workforces around the world are struggling with feelings of isolation and estrangement. This is according to a recent survey of over 400 remote workers, with 83% of respondents feeling disconnected from their workplace cultures, and 82% citing communication obstacles. Furthermore, relationships with managers are more transactional and less supportive when working remotely, the survey finding that 54% feel their supervisor does not provide them with the necessary support to deal with any issues that may arise. Greater physical distance makes asking for and receiving help on an ad hoc basis more of a challenge, leaving employees with a lack of crucial support in times of need. 

graph depicting the impact of remote work on inclusion, among distributed workforces
Remote work has created new barriers to workplace inclusion

How can we strengthen these connections? How can we connect and collaborate more effectively?   

How to boost remote workforce engagement

To boost social connections, we can begin by harnessing the right technology. This is where it becomes advantageous to leverage people analytics – a tool that delivers insights into each employee’s skills and knowledge as well as paints a broad picture of the overall progress of the workforce, and one that is at the heart of the Performance Enablement Platform. Armed with people analytics dashboards, organizations gain valuable insights into the performance of their distributed workforces, and inform them of actions to take. For instance, if an employee is finding communication obstacles a challenge, they may benefit from additional training, tools or more one-on-one time with managers. This smart technology spots those employees whose performance may be dwindling, and delivers relevant training to boost skills.   

By collecting key information such as employees’ skills and work habits, business leaders can then use these observations to better connect with their distributed workforces. 

The power & force of communities

Socializing in the workplace keeps employees healthy, encourages teamwork, and even idle workplace chatter increases productivity. Traditionally, organizations have cultivated their cultures through personal interaction, events and other workplace gatherings, yet in the absence of shared spaces, this has become more difficult to achieve. Therefore, it becomes essential to re-create these spur-of-the moment interactions and offer opportunities for bonding and community building in the virtual realm. 

As a recent Deloitte Insights paper pointed out, “the new workplace is where the work lives” – that is, the shared digital environments used by teams, and their assortment of collaboration and communication tools. The paper’s authors suggest adopting a mindset shift: rather than envisioning the workplace as a location, think of it instead as a network of digitally mediated interactions and relationships. How can we maximize the potential of these environments and ensure they are most effective for remote and distributed workforces to connect and collaborate?

Social functionality – enabling connections between distributed team members, such as feedback and peer-to-peer mentoring – is one feature of Performance Enablement platforms. This tool also allows for more streamlined communication, as communities can be structured around specific skills, regions or themes. 

Picture it: as a new employee who is joining a company, you are provided with just-in-time triggered support and feedback. Ask any questions, and colleagues can easily assist you. For example, you can have multiple conversations and chat groups with others nearby you in Los Angeles, with those who work within your organizations’ marketing team as well as with those who just started working there and are looking for newbie peers. 

Such platforms also allow for organizations to design individualized programs for their employees, driving them to join corporate wellness programs and adopt healthier lifestyles. Perhaps team competitions could feature biking challenges or healthy recipe cooking competitions (each employee shares a recipe, and team members vote on which they most enjoyed). Going forward, finding innovative ways to connect and cultivate a strong sense of community in the digital space will continue to be critical.  

Erica Dhawan, a leading expert on digital teamwork, defined connectional intelligence as the “capability to unlock new and unrealized value by fully harnessing the power of our networks and our relationships.” As society continues to move towards remote and distributed teams and larger and geographically dispersed workforces are common, there is an opportunity to tap into these rich networks so individuals can learn from one another and grow. In the shifting work landscape of today, we just need to be creative and uncover new ways of connecting. 

Rallyware’s Performance Enablement Platform makes it possible to connect intelligently and efficiently, across borders and time zones. To learn more about how to unite your distributed workforces, request a demo