How Global Work Management Can Yield Better Productivity

April 29, 2014 Ashley Pretnik

project management software

The global landscape of work is evolving. The rapid pace of innovation has changed the products we use, the technology we rely on, and the way we work. Over 13 million people in the United States worked from home at least one day per week in 2010. That's just over 9% of the entire U.S. workforce. Compare that to the 9.2 million people that worked from home just one day per week in 1997 and we can see a staggering upward trend.

Companies are also tapping into the global workforce. In a recent Citrix Workplace of the Future survey, 24% of global companies allowed employees to work from wherever and whenever they wanted.

By 2020, the set up of office space will change dramatically. It's predicted that the total space allocated for offices will shrink by almost 17%. The future workforce will share desks (seven desks for every 10 workers). In the U.S., it's predicted to be as low as six desks for every 10 workers.

This shift has major benefits for companies looking to cut costs, both in employee-related spending and overall real estate expenses. Employees benefit, too. Increased productivity is a proven result of remote workers (up to 62%), increased time with clients (48%), and a better overall work/life balance (55%).

There are, however, a few eerie downsides to all the positives in global offices and remote employees: lack of team communication, disjointed reports, and no project collaboration. What can you do when your team is spread out across the globe? What can you do to maximize your resources and keep everyone on track?

Here are three ways you can join the ranks of the global workspace, taking advantage work that moves forward 24/7, while keeping your team communicating, collaborating, and working on the right work:

COMMUNICATE IN ONE TOOL

First, you need to establish a platform for communication. Disconnected teams don't get work done. Whether you're in the same office or your team has half a world between each desk, communication is how you stay connected on projects and ad hoc work. Emails, phone calls, and meetings, are all great resources, but a single platform to collect all communication on fly-by requests and projects is key to keeping your team on the same page.

Take, for example, Trek Bicycle. Headquartered in Waterloo, Wisconsin, the business spans across the globe with offices in Germany, Holland, China, and Taiwan. They had no way to communicate collaboratively with any of the team members in their international locations. Disjointed tools didn't share information and data and status updates became isolated in spreadsheets that were kept on individuals' desktops.

After Workfront was implemented, the company noticed an immediate change. Teams were able to collaborate and communicate like never before. Tasks could be shared between global teams to maximize work hours and turn projects around quickly. Steve Malchow, VP of Operations, recalled:

"Right away, we were on the same timeline as our Taiwanese office and we were having this global collaboration. We would leave for the day. They would work through the night. We would come in in the morning and their tasks would be updated."

WORK IN THE SAME SPACE

Next, with disjointed tools, it's difficult to work with your team on the same projects if one team is using this and the other is using that. Throw in mixing methodologies and you'll have one team speaking a language that the others have never heard. The importance of using one tool for project collaboration, time and resource tracking, and reports that roll up all project data into the same view is essential for global teams and companies with a workforce that telecommutes.

The global IT PMO at CHEP experienced this benefit once Workfront was implemented. Supporting project management and IT efforts for the entire Brambles Limited umbrella, which includes 17,000 employees across 54 countries, they struggled to accurately track time, resources, and proper metrics between teams. After implementation, their project visibility increased strategic focus from 20% to 50%.

Andrew Goddard, director of Global IT at CHEP, said:

"As a global company that operates across 16 time zones, Workfront lets our people from Sydney to South Africa to Orlando easily work together on the same projects. Everyone sees the same data and focus on executing our strategy and solving business problems."

UTILIZE ALL RESOURCES

Finally, to work on the right work, visibility is key. Your team needs a tool that gives every member a view into the entire project and work list so they can see where things stand, what's stuck in review, what needs help, etc. Teams that work in separate offices can be powerful when work has a deadline (which is most of the time). With the right visibility, teams that don't complete projects or tasks during their workdays can push that project or task to the next team. The next shift starts and your work keeps moving forward.

LexisNexis experienced this after they introduced Workfront to their global offices. Before, managers could not see how many projects were in the queue, what the bottlenecks were, or how their team could help. After Workfront was adopted, resources were utilized and every team's productivity rose to new heights. They began delivering on requests in half the required time and increased the QA testing turnaround rate from 68% to 88%.

Of this type of neverending, 24/7 work process, Frank Grippo, Director of Web Services at LexisNexis, explained:

"Tickets get assigned to us at 8:00 eastern time in the morning. With Workfront, if we can't get to it by the end of the day, we push that over to India and then India works on it. The next day, the work is done. So, even though we have a 48-hour turnaround time, we get most of our work done in 24 hours because we have two teams working in the same system in Workfront."

Remote employees and global offices are not new, but the way we work and interact with employees that aren't in the same physical office should continue to evolve so we innovate faster, communicate better, and get more work done.

To read more about these customers, visit the case studies below:

Trek Bicycle
CHEP
LexisNexis

Read more...

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