Tips for Managing a Distributed WorkForce for the Long Haul

Tips for Managing a Distributed WorkForce for the Long Haul

What started as a temporary move to working from home has become the catalyst for distributed workforces. 

As the leadership team of a company that has been remote and globally distributed for more than 8 years, we have thought a lot about optimizing a situation that is new-ish for many. We’ve been where you are. At first, it feels easy, sustainable, better! Then, the novelty wears off. But there are things you can do now to ensure a distributed or hybrid workforce works for your organization long-term.

1. Welcome to a more limitless candidate pool for hiring – choose wisely!

One of the greatest opportunities for a non-location based company is the broader and more diverse talent pool you can tap into. You can find the best talent and the most capable candidate regardless of location. Use this opportunity to expand your horizons, be intentional about adding diversity to your team. It’s proven that more diverse teams have better outcomes

New hires need to fit your new remote work culture. More than ever they need to be self-reliant and self-advocates. Have a plan for socializing them throughout the company and facilitating training that involves inter-team collaboration

2. Embrace asynchronous communication.

For most companies, a move to working from home will often mean that traditional 9-to-5 working schedules become less rigid. With current school closures and additional caretaker responsibilities at home, shifting working hours has become imperative to support employees. The result is asynchronous communication. This blog post does a great job explaining asynchronous communication and the many benefits. How we Communicate at Automattic

My quick tips: 

  1. Be thoughtful about the tools you use to communicate (hint – it’s not email)
  2. Setting clear expectations reduces anxiety and empowers your team to prioritize. 

Initially, you might fear things will move slower. However, when you consider that other team members can keep the ball rolling while you’re busy (and vice versa) your time has suddenly expanded exponentially. 

3. Document and maintain.

Make sure that your company policies, resources, best practices, and expectations are well documented, kept current, and easily accessible.

“Documentation will not only aid in informing team members when they are working asynchronously; it will also create a public archive for future hires and organizational assessments.” – Jason Wingard, Forbes Contributor (Link

Likely, your policies need a thorough review if this shift has been new for you – and I’m not just talking about your employee handbook.

4. Connect Intentionally.

To a business leader driving the bottom line, casual connections may seem superfluous. However, a sense of connection (to the team, company values, etc) is so important for long term success. 

At first, you can get by with the residual community built up by being in person. But with turnover, growth, and simply the passage of time, connectedness can wane. 

Build communication channels and events to facilitate this type of interaction from distributed locations. 

      1. Be diligent about recurring 1-1s with direct reports. Consider using this opportunity to flatten your organization and connect with those who are on the front-lines as well. 
      2. Be even more communicative about the company’s vision, mission, goals, successes, and failures, opportunities, etc. Transparency builds loyalty and a culture of open communication.
      3. Create space for non-work related conversations. Our twice-weekly 30-minute “coffee chats” via Zoom successfully helped our team connect as people.  Playing online games or trivia are a great way to let loose and facilitate teamwork. Create channels in your instant messaging platform for casual conversations or sharing of funny cat videos. Actively encourage participation.

5. The technology you use to facilitate business processes matters more now.

The technology platforms you use to facilitate the work is the glue that holds your organization together. Common challenges include:

      1. Platform overload – The typical mid-market company uses 185 different apps – according to the 2020 Saas Trends report. That is lot to manage and rife with room for information to fall through the cracks. 
      2. Data Silos: With all those different tools, platforms, spreadsheets and communication tools, your company data is in lots of different places, but not together. 
      3. Manual Processes: How does your sales team transfer projects to operations? Who gets information to finance for billing? Is that a manual process at risk for errors and omissions?For these reasons and more, we built an internal platform that would manage our globally distributed team and integrate communications and consolidate data. It services hundreds of clients, automates a vast sample sourcing ecosystem and optimizes delivery on thousands of projects per day. 

        The results have been significant. We’ve scaled our operation, delivering for more clients, faster, without the expense of adding headcount. Due to the flexibility of the system, architected on a microservices infrastructure, we are prepared and ready for future changes and can remain nimble as we grow. If you’re contemplating the buy vs. build decision for bringing additional technology into your research tech stack, talk to us first.

        We’ve been there, we’ve built, and our flexible DataForce platform modules are being used by other industry businesses to add flexibility, innovation, and scale to their own teams and products.

        We’re not in the new normal yet, we won’t be for a while. As researchers, we’re in the privileged position of shaping that new normal in so many ways. Our goal at Research For Good is to enable human understanding so we can reach a better new normal. 

Want to find out how DataForce can enable an engaged, and efficient distributed team?

A Force for Human Understanding

A Force for Human Understanding

Do you understand the new consumer today? Can you predict what humans will do, value, think, say, demand, and fight for tomorrow?

We’re in the new now. We’ve collectively agreed that we’re not going back. We’re also not in the new-normal yet. Nothing is normal yet. A recession is here. Businesses may be opening, but their customers have not yet fully formed their new expectations. So much change, catalyzed in such a singular point in time, will take time (and data) to fully understand. 

That’s why, even amongst all the current chaos and uncertainty, we know it is the right time to bring our DataForce platform to market. To foster growth, innovation, understanding, compassion, empathy, diversity, and unity. Brands and those who support them through research need insights and data to form their go-forward decisions. 

We know that data collection today is fraught. Systems and processes are opaque, leading to a lack of trust and misunderstanding. Tools are built on outdated technology making them cumbersome, manual, and inflexible. Data quality, costs, and consumer participation are unstable. At Research For Good, we see these issues, and we are driven to solve them. We envision a future where human understanding is integrated, harmonious, infinitely scalable, and holistic.

To get there, we built DataForce, a modular research ecosystem. DataForce Connect, DataForce Collect, and DataForce Community provide global businesses with an infinitely scalable, integrated suite of data platforms-as-a-service (PaaS). Used alone or together, each drives drive efficiency, flexibility, and the ability to innovate at a rate outpacing today’s development cycles. PaaS structure empowers agencies to build the research methodologies and products that brands are asking for. Our platform takes care of the back-end infrastructure and provides the API-driven flexibility and customization to build innovative and agile research products on top, without the technical overhead of starting from scratch.

Our purpose-built system has modules to support active & passive data collection (DataForce Collect), online communities & panels (DataForce Community), and the data fieldwork process from bid to billing (DataForce Connect). We enable today’s research and insights professionals to bring their ResearchTech stacks into the new, now. 

To be clear, we do not know what the answers are or what the future holds. What we do know is that we want to be part of the solution in improving our collective path forward, by enabling human understanding through technology. DataForce is future-forward and intelligently architected to empower insights professionals to do their very best work. In doing so, we can help businesses, leaders, and brands understand people better than ever before, and shape for all of us a better future. 

Want to find out how DataForce can enable your future goals? 

Insights In The Time Of Covid-19

Insights In The Time Of Covid-19

Life and business today is so vastly different from how it was just weeks ago, it’s hard to conceive of all of the change. For the insights industry, now is our time to rise to the challenge and help guide our clients, our businesses and our countries through these uncharted waters. We are uniquely positioned to understand what is happening, and how citizen’s mindsets are shifting, day by day, if not hour by hour. The advancement of technology in #mrx over the past few years have set our industry up to be well-positioned to execute in these virtual and remote times. F2F needs to be done online? There are tools for that. Entire project management team working from home? We’ve got a #mrx project management platform for that. Online Focus Groups, access to consumers where they are spending their time online – even if they haven’t joined a panel – not a problem. The how of execution needn’t be your worry. (and we’ve a post with a huge compilation of industry recommendations of best-practices in this time of change).

However, most importantly, this is our time to add tremendous value to businesses going into overdrive to stay alive and thrive. Should you be doing research right now? YES. But with one caveat – be a human.

Remember, whether conducting online qual, online surveys or other means of data collection, you’re talking to humans. You’re asking them for something (their data/opinions) in a time where their mental headspace is likely already full with work (for those fortunate enough to still be working), maybe managing children & homeschool during this time, the economy and their personal health and the wellbeing of friends and family. Treat them with grace, understanding, compassion. Be curious in a way that shows consideration and demonstrates your TRUE desire to help.

The human ingenuity and ability to adapt and innovate in a time of crisis continues to astound and inspire me each and every day. Thought you had a brick and mortar business – suddenly you’re in e-commerce and killing it with the community you’ve built who want to support YOU. My massage therapist now sources pain relief bath salts and tinctures to be delivered to client’s homes and offers 30-minute phone sessions to help with at-home pain & stress management. Suddenly, every parent is a novice homeschooler realizing what BIG ENORMOUS shoes of their children’s teachers they’re attempting to fill.

We will not be the same on the other side of this pandemic, and the optimist in me holds firmly to the belief that we will be the better for it. Insights professionals YOU have the unique position to bring light and understanding, calm and solidarity to the collective psyche as you guide business stakeholders through transitions they were not prepared for and show them how it is in their best interests to truly care for and support their consumers. Please, run that tracker, pivot that F2F study to online, add a few questions about COVID-19 impact and economic situation changes. But please don’t forget your humanity in the process. This is our collective opportunity to use our powers of insight and understanding for the greater good.

We’ve put together a list of helpful resources from the MR industry to help navigate through COVID-19 and the impact on our space.

Keeping Up With The…Content

Keeping Up With The…Content

The pace of change is accelerating every day – and despite what some might say about a slowness to adapt to change in our industry, change and innovation are afoot in Market Research too.

Market Research automation, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and the InternetOfThings. These are all hot button items and I can’t wait to see where Market Research goes in the next few years.

The future is bright, but keeping up with change can be overwhelming. As a founder of Research For Good, helping to oversee a team of over 40 people, and being a wife, mother, dog-mom, and homeowner, it can be challenging to keep up with everything that’s being written and said, both about our industry, and business in general.

 

I haven’t perfected a system (yet!), but here are some of my must read / listen to sources.

Some specific to #MRX, and some more general.

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Podcasts

Every day, the NPR: Up First Podcast is at the top of my list. In less than 15 minutes, you can get up to speed on previous days news. This means you’re current and ready for water-cooler chat (or if you work from home like me – so you don’t feel like you’re out of the loop). I listen to it on the drive home from dropping my kids off at pre-school. #Multitasking!

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Vlogs

Perspectives: This new Vlog from voxpopme from is off to a promising start. But can we ask the contributors to hold their phones just a little steadier, please? #MotionSickness

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Broadsheets

The Broadsheet: This daily resource is free from the witty (read – somewhat patronising) commentary of popular daily newsletter – The Skimm. This newsletter in particular highlights the movers and shakers of women in businesses. For me, it’s daily inspiration!

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Newsletters

Of the many, many #MRX newsletters that exist, my go-to each day is still the DRNO by Mr Web. It’s concise, easy to skim-read, and it keeps me up-to-date on industry announcements in just 2 to 3 minutes. You can have a copy sent to your inbox each weekend morning by registering here.

What quality content sources are you paying attention to right now?

 

What am I missing?

 

Do you have any great hacks for staying afloat in the deep sea of constant content?

 

Note: This blog post was originally written by one of RFG’s co-founders, Baillie Buchanan.

You can check out the original blog post on LinkedIn here.

22 Questions To Ask Your DIY Sample Supplier

22 Questions To Ask Your DIY Sample Supplier

The decision to add a sample DIY tool, or respondent access system, to your process for procuring respondents for your market research needs, is not to be undertaken lightly. Implementing a change to process within an organization big or small requires thought and planning.

Having launched The Sampling Place, our respondent access platform, in mid-2017, we’ve worked with many market researchers to assess whether our platform was the right fit for their projects, their sample needs, and their organizational processes. Through this experience, we defined a set of 22 questions anyone considering going DIY for their sample buying should ask their platform supplier before engaging.

Having direct access to respondents via a portal which puts the researcher in full control, is one of the many ways technology is amplifying the research process. We’re excited to see where this trend leads the industry. In the meantime, we’re here to offer guidance along the way as new technologies and processes are introduced.

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