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Most professionals have experienced a total change in their working situation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to McKinsey & Company’s American Opportunity Survey, 58% of Americans have reported that they have the opportunity to work from home at least one day per week. With organizations having to manage geographically diverse teams, more managers are looking to draw inspiration and wisdom from the established discipline of field workforce management (FWM).
The sudden uptick in interest in field workforce management presents an excellent opportunity to explore the subject and review what constitutes its best practices. According to Bryan Robinson, Ph.D., an American psychotherapist and workaholic expert, remote work is a phenomenon that will remain commonplace and even grow in popularity in 2023. With work-for-home (WFH) practices here to stay, companies need to equip themselves with the knowledge and skills to manage a workforce that is not entirely on-site. Enter field workforce management.
What is Field Workforce Management?
According to IBM, field workforce management is defined as “The process for managing a company’s resources employed at or en route to the property of clients, rather than on company property.” As mentioned above, this is similar to the current work-from-home situation in which many companies and their workforces find themselves. FWM is a key component of the success of companies in various industries, including:
- Construction – Construction companies and construction service firms provide services at a number of different building sites.
- Equipment Maintenance – Technicians responsible for maintaining equipment need to travel from their base office to different customers to provide their services.
- Information and Communications Technology – Communications infrastructure is present throughout inhabited areas in the modern world, meaning that installing, servicing, and maintaining this architecture takes place over several areas.
- Mining, Oil, and Gas – The natural resources on which these industries are built need to be extracted, processed, stored, and distributed at a variety of locations.
- Emergency Services – Fire, medical, and security emergency services are all highly mobile and dynamic in the nature of their operations.
Ensuring that management located at an organization’s offices has control and knowledge of operators, technicians, field agents, and other mobile staff is a vital undertaking for many businesses. Without this, there is little to no control over whether a strategy is being followed, further assistance is needed, and customer satisfaction is adequate.
Tips for Optimizing Your Field Force Operation
Businesses that operate in multi-site environments are familiar with the complexity and difficulty of effectively managing their resources in the deployment of their services. As such, below are five tips for maximizing the efficiency of your field workforce management.
Provide Your Team with the Right Tools
The power of technology has revolutionized the way business is done. FWM is no different. An organization can ensure synergy amongst its team by using conducive software. Wingmate offers companies simple but powerful customer relationship management (CRM) software that is integrated with its own field reporting app. As you will see, this mobile app is perfect for teams involved in FWM.
Allow for Real-Time Communication and Visibility
Wingmate’s field reporting application allows field staff, such as drivers, technicians, couriers, and sales representatives, to provide real-time information on the go. The data that these staff members can input include sales and lead referrals, customer complaints, safety issues, service problems, and up-selling opportunities.
Managing a team with access to this functionality ensures that decision-makers are always in the know-how about performance and the need for any potential pivots.
Create a Culture of Trust and Transparency
Having an application that enables real-time communication among teams creates an environment that is conducive to trust and transparency. Outside of this, the need for a culture of trust and transparency in geographically diverse teams is immense.
As per a 2016 PWC survey of CEOs, 55% of them believe that the lack of trust in a workplace is an existential threat. Furthermore, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that team members in high-trust workplaces experience 74% less stress, 50% higher productivity, and 76% more engagement than counterparts in low-trust workplaces.
Set S.M.A.R.T. Daily and Weekly Goals
When team members are consistently physically distant from their coworkers and management, staying in sync with organizational goals can be a challenge. These team members do not enjoy the privilege of being in an office for the entirety of their working hours and tend to miss out on strategy sessions, feedback meetings, and other chance encounters relating to a change in objectives.
An excellent way to mitigate this problem is to set daily and weekly goals that adhere to the S.M.A.R.T. principles – Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. These principles are expanded upon below:
- Specific – Goals must be lucidly defined and unambiguous
- Measurable – The success of goals must be measured against a predefined set of criteria
- Achievable – The goal must be within a reasonable reach of those who aim to attain it
- Realistic – The goal must be realistic and relevant to the goals of the organization in question
- Timely – Goals must be set with a clear timeframe in mind to assist with resource management and create a sense of urgency
A study published by the Dominican University of California found that participants who wrote down their goals and were forced to provide weekly updates were 33% more likely to achieve their goals than participants who did not.
All micro-goals must be set in light of higher-order goals. For example, a team’s weekly goals should naturally follow from its medium- and long-term goals. Similarly, its daily goals should follow its weekly goals. Aside from assisting with FWM, this gives teams a more tangible roadmap to reaching their long-term targets.
Offer Timely and Clear Feedback
A natural addition to periodic goal-setting is the provision of feedback regarding goal progress. Field staff members are more readily able to improve their performance and make the necessary adjustments if they receive frequent feedback. Wingmate’s field reporting app allows management to gain an accurate view of their team’s execution which in turn leads to precise feedback.
As mentioned above, while these processes are important for all businesses, they are especially so for those that operate across multiple sites.
It is clear that FWM is a facet of many organizations’ core activities that is too important to leave to chance. Implementing appropriate software and technology is often the most pragmatic way for businesses to approach this complex task. Using a field reporting app such as Wingmate empowers management to take control of their field staff while improving overall group performance. Book a demo today to experience the power of Wingmate for yourself.
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