Managing staff can be hard enough when everyone shares one office building, but it becomes even more challenging when a significant proportion of workers are based out in the field.
It’s important to find a way to be able to keep track of the progress of every job, while also making sure field workers feel like an integral, appreciated part of the organisation.
Fortunately, digital tools are now available to make managing field workers more straightforward than ever before. Implementing cloud-based software solutions, like our data capture app, can be an efficient and effective way to overcome many of the challenges traditionally associated with managing teams remotely.
Here are just three ways that solutions like ours can help make life easier for both field workers and their managers:
Historically, managers had to rely on paper job sheets to dispatch to their field workers, meaning that all jobs had to be allocated at the beginning of the day or week, with sheets physically handed over to workers. This made it extremely difficult to reallocate existing jobs or add new ones throughout the day, and left managers oblivious to the progress of each task.
While e-mail job packs are an improvement on paper-based systems, they are still an inefficient and clumsy way of managing workflows, with workers having to check their emails frequently for any messages from their managers, and managers relying on email updates regarding job statuses from their staff.
Replacing paper job sheets or email job packs with digital workflow management software streamlines processes, by allowing managers to schedule work and send information directly to employees’ mobile devices. It’s then possible for them to receive updates and notifications during the life-cycle of a job, showing when a worker has begun travelling, arrived at the job, started and completed the work.
A lack of regular communication can make field workers feel detached from the rest of the business, but having to provide frequent updates via email or over the phone can also be too time consuming. A dedicated app-based instant messaging service provides an effective communication channel alternative, helping to foster collaboration between members of multi-sites teams quickly and efficiently.
By allowing people to communicate in real time, instant messaging tools help to bridge the gap between departments located in different sites and encourage workers to share news and updates on the work they are doing more frequently.
Additionally, when managers have access to real-time information, they can be much more proactive, instead of reacting when things have already occurred. This allows them to make quicker and better decisions.
Share documents instantly
One key drawback of managing field workers is having to wait until employees return to the office to receive any paperwork they’ve completed, which could take days. This can slow down the business and prevent important decisions from being made quickly.
Cloud-based data capture apps allow staff to complete work documents digitally, with the information then being saved automatically to a central reporting platform. This data can then be accessed by managers instantly, enabling them to always have an accurate picture of the business and produce up-to-the minute business intelligence reports.
Remote working also makes it difficult for managers to share documents with employees in the field in a timely manner. Each time a training guide or best practice document is updated, for example, managers must find a way to distribute the new version to all the relevant employees, or risk compliance issues.
This can prove to be a logistical nightmare with remote employees, as it involves either printing the updated documents and handing them out as and when employees return to the office, or ensuring that a digital copy is emailed to all appropriate staff. Both options are likely to prove time-consuming and costly to the business, and if workers fail to save the updated document somewhere ,they may struggle to find it again in their emails in the future.
Cloud-based solutions allow managers to upload the updated documents to a central library, with the documents then automatically distributed to their field force via the app, removing the need to spend time sending emails to the relevant workers. This also allows them to be accessed and viewed at any time on the app, in some cases even if the worker is offline.
These are just three ways that technology is enabling businesses to manage their field-based employees more effectively. Implementing the appropriate solutions can improve the employee experience while also helping businesses to save money, improve efficiencies and guarantee compliance.