Why Workflows Are Essential for the Success of Distributed Teams

January 5, 2023
Why Workflows Are Essential for the Success of Distributed Teams

A lot of companies and organizations that survived from the COVID-19 pandemic were forced to adopt hybrid or fully remote work models. This kind of work setup has since become increasingly popular as organizations strive to be more global and flexible. Companies are now more inclined to set up distributed teams to be able to reap the benefits that this new work model can bring.

While there are many benefits to this type of work arrangement, one of the biggest challenges is making sure that everyone is on the same page and working together effectively. But how can a leader or manager ensure that the teams, wherever they are in the world, are in sync and working as one towards a specific business goal?

What is a Workflow, and Why Do Companies Need it for Distributed Teams?

A way to overcome this challenge is to have a distributed teams workflow. A workflow is a series of steps that outlines specific activities, processes and roles to complete a task, project, or goal. Having a workflow will help keep everyone in the team organized and on track on their deliverables, milestones and timelines. It will also help to confirm that everyone is working efficiently and completing their tasks on time, avoiding costly delays and troubles for the company. Here are the many benefits to having a workflow for distributed teams.

Meet Deadlines and Increase Productivity

Having a workflow for distributed teams can help increase productivity and meet deadlines. When everyone is informed of their tasks and deadlines, they are more likely to stay on track and get their work done on time. At times, tasks can be delivered ahead of time when the workflow and processes are at optimal level, reaching maximum efficiency of team members. 

A workflow can also serve as a guide for team members on their day to day work agenda, helping them eliminate distractions and prevent from getting sidetracked, thus raising overall efficiency of workers and teams.

Improve Team Communication

Workflow can help improve communication, as well as eliminate barriers and misunderstandings between members and different distributed teams. When everyone is on the same page and aware of what needs to be done, it is easier to communicate and collaborate. Having a workflow can also help to reduce the need for unnecessary meetings. If everyone knows what they need to do and when they need to do it, there will be less need for clarification and discussion.

Improve Morale and Teamwork

A workflow can help to improve morale. When team members feel like they are part of a well-organized team and they know what is expected of them, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged. A clear well-designed workflow can also help to minimize stress levels, make the team more efficient, and allow them to be able to help one another as they go.

How to Create a Workflow for Distributed Teams

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best workflow for a distributed team will vary depending on the company's overall goals, the team's skills and experience, and the individual members' working styles and preferences. But these are some of the tips a company can take note of to create an effective workflow for a distributed team. 

  1. Know the company's overall goals and objectives. These can be broken down into specific projects and tasks, and even smaller sub-tasks to ensure that the entire team is knowledgeable of what needs to be accomplished and that the project specifications are met.
  2. Get to know the individual members, categorize their skills, and assign tasks according to their strengths. Leaders can set up interviews and ask them questions to understand their workflow or process. Make a list or audit of their talents, their strengths and weaknesses, and in which areas do they excel. They can be categorized based on their skill set, work experience, and how they work with the team. Leaders can also check for soft skills such as leadership, critical thinking, problem solving, and time management to determine in which areas they can help in forwarding projects and help with the company's vision and mission. Examples of this are collating and organizing team data and efforts, coordination with stakeholders, maintaining client relations, allowing them to handle other parts in negotiations with other entities or teams, and many more. Observe the team members’ productivity for a period of time to gauge how they are working efficiently and effectively. Monitor each of their productivity and success rates in accomplishing goals or tasks to determine who might work best in the long run. Use this data to calibrate your operations to achieve maximum efficiency and productivity.

    With this process, leaders can also determine which team members are willing to work on their weaknesses and determine their growth areas. From there, management can source the appropriate trainings and modules that can further help the teams and the company grow.

  1. Test, observe, and analyze tasks for their effectiveness, and adjust the workflow accordingly. This may involve trying different tasks or subtask lists or focusing on what is most important. The trial and error way to see which team members fit into certain tasks will help in achieving an optimized and more efficient work environment which benefits both the teams and the company.

Without a workflow, companies can end up losing thousands to millions of dollars due to delays, misunderstandings, and disconnect on who has ownership in each of the tasks needed to ensure operational efficiency. Time spent rectifying a failure within the chain of work can instead be spent in expanding and growing the business. At the basic level, companies really need to have tailor fit workflow for their teams, especially configuring, connecting and optimizing distributed teams whose members are working in other parts of the world, at different times.

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