Distributed Workforce: What It Is And How To Manage It
The distributed workforce model is expanding as companies rethink their workstyle for success in the future. Here’s how...
Keeping your in-office, field-service, and remote teams focused and working efficiently is a complicated task. There are so many things to do and so many variables to contend with. Thankfully, there is a simple solution: task management software.
But will just any app do? Absolutely not. Some software is little more than a simple calendar that is only good for organizing one person’s daily itinerary. That won’t do for a business with multiple employees.
In this article, we discuss what to look for in task management software so you can choose the best option for your team and your business.
Task management software is a set of digital tools that can help you direct, organize, and conduct both small and large jobs through to their conclusion. Though this may seem similar to project management, the two are actually very different.
Project management is concerned with the distinct phases through which a large project moves on its way to completion.
For example, a warehouse maintenance company may set out to improve client perception of their business. Management would incorporate project management software to plan, implement, and track the various stages of the process.
Task management software, on the other hand, is concerned with individual jobs that must be done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to keep the business (or the project mentioned in the previous paragraph) running smoothly.
For example, if the warehouse maintenance company decided it needed to clean its office lobby more often as a way to improve client perception, managers could use task management software as a way to make sure that job gets done when it should.
That said, most businesses that are product-based or service-based — such as food trucks, cleaners, landscapers, pressure washers, and others — may benefit more from the task management software than they would the project management software.
Product- or service-based businesses don’t necessarily need the larger project components of the latter solution and can excel with the smaller, day-to-day components of the former solution.
Task management software makes it easier than ever to bring clarity and transparency to your team’s activities.
With modern digital solutions (such as the Inch app), each employee can see who is responsible for all the tasks that need to be done in a given period of time. That way, there is no duplicate work or wasted time and effort on the way to the successful completion of the work.
This is especially useful when new team members arrive or an existing team member is assigned brand-new tasks.
Establishing responsibility for tasks (and maintaining that transparency) can be the most difficult aspect of your workforce management. But, task management software helps make it easier to delineate responsibilities so that overlap and redundancy don’t become a problem.
Waiting for instructions is the death of productivity. Unfortunately, employees often have to interrupt their workflow and stand by for minutes, or sometimes hours, until their manager has a moment to provide more direction.
Task management software helps to eliminate this bottleneck by making the “to-dos” available to all employees whenever they need it. Team members can move directly from one task to another without losing time and productivity.
The fact that the software is in place may also benefit management because, once tasks have been assigned, they won’t have to interrupt their own workflow to give instructions to each employee.
Task management software can also benefit your company by establishing a level of accountability that might not have been possible with earlier job coordination systems.
For example, if your business relies on a verbal task assignment system, it can be easy for you and your team members to forget what needs to be done. As a result, the task may be completed below your business’s standards (if it gets completed at all).
With the automation and access built into modern team management solutions, your team will have all the information they need to keep track of what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and when it needs to be completed.
Task management software can also help make your team more efficient at completing the tasks you assign them.
With the right tools on hand, your employees may be able to complete the work with less effort and resources than they did before. In essence, they’ll get better at their jobs.
Such efficiency improvements may then translate into increased productivity — the amount of work done over a given time — and more work completed in a single shift.
Time is money. That’s never more true than when it comes to running a business. More specifically, time is money when it comes to keeping your employees on task.
If your job assignment system is overly complicated, relies heavily on verbal instructions, or isn’t as clear as it could be, your team may be losing valuable time that they could be spending on more important issues.
When you incorporate task management software into your workflow, you give your team the tools they need to complete their work faster while still maintaining the same level of quality that your business demands.
Of course, the most important feature to look for in task management software is the ability to assign and manage tasks.
As we mentioned moments ago, it’s not enough that you’re able to manage the tasks of one employee. You need the power to manage the tasks of two, five, 10, or even 20+ employees.
When it comes down to it, you need an app that accommodates your needs, not the other way around.
It doesn’t matter if your employees are part of a team that works on site, in the field, or in their own homes, assigning tasks and making sure that they get done promptly and on time is crucial for their success and the success of your business.
The best software makes the whole process simpler and easier to execute — whether the right team member for the job is just down the hall or all the way across town.
Another essential feature to look for in task management software is mobility.
You never know where you are going to be — or where someone on your team is going to be — when you need to access task information. This is especially true if you manage multiple locations or if your team has an on-site, remote, and mobile component.
In those cases, even the best app is all but useless if your team can’t use it anywhere, anytime.
The best way to overcome these hurdles is to choose an app that operates in the cloud. As long as your employees have access to a WiFi or cellular signal, they can get the information they need to do their job right — wherever they may be.
Similarly, flexibility is important if you’re going to get the most out of your task management software. And, no, we’re not talking about using the app for something other than what it was built for.
We’re talking about the flexibility to use the software on any device.
Again, you never know where you and your team members are going to be — or what device and operating system you’ll have on hand — when you need to check, edit, or delete the task list.
With the right task management software, it doesn’t matter. You and your team will be able to use the tools on any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop, whether they’re running Windows, Android, macOS, or iOS.
Combined with the mobility we mentioned earlier, device and operating-system flexibility serve as the foundation of modern task management apps.
Time tracking is another essential feature of good task management software that no manager should be without.
The time tracking features in modern apps, like Inch, make it easy to track everyone’s full workday and an individual employee’s time on task.
In addition to total work hours and time-on-task, the most advanced software suites give you the power to:
Whatever type of team you manage and wherever they may work, a robust software suite can help you simplify and streamline time tracking for all involved.
Communication is vital for keeping your team organized, focused, and productive in today’s fast-paced business climate.
Priorities can change in the blink of an eye, and you need to be able to relay this information to your employees as quickly as possible — whether they’re in the office, across town, or across the country.
Of course, you can talk to each employee individually (e.g., face to face, on the phone, or on a video conference), but that takes time.
With apps like Inch, you can distribute information quickly and easily to all of your employees via SMS and push notifications.
You also get more refined controls with which you can send messages to your whole team, user-defined groups of people, or individuals. Such advanced features make it simpler to communicate with employees within groups, locations, or specific positions.
You can even share files, photos, videos, and links for faster and more complete communication so that everyone is on the same page.
Geofencing is a feature that most managers don’t even realize they need.
This powerful tool allows you to create a virtual geographic boundary (a geofence) around a certain area. You can then set the app to react in certain ways if an employee is within those boundaries or if they stray outside.
For example, you might set a geofence of a few hundred feet around all of the work locations (e.g., appointments or house calls) for a single employee. You can then prevent the employee from clocking in until they’re within the radius you’ve defined.
Similarly, you can set the app to stop tracking time if the employee exceeds the distance you’ve set.
Another example of using geofencing in your business would be to set boundaries to keep employees out of a certain area (perhaps another employee’s territory). If someone crosses into a space that’s off-limits, you can set the software to notify both you and the employee.
Geofencing is a great way to keep team members where they should be, prevent time theft, and reduce operating costs all in one fell swoop.
While task management software gives you laser-focused control over every aspect of your team’s daily activities, it can’t do everything.
Most task management apps aren’t designed to serve as long-term scheduling tools or payroll calculators. But the best ones integrate with other programs to make these jobs easier.
Inch, for example, integrates nicely with its sister app, Sling, to give you a wider view of your team’s schedule (e.g., employee A works Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next two months) and more control over payday processes, such as total hours worked and overtime.
With integrations like this, you don’t have to spend time struggling with task management software that doesn’t work well with the programs you need to get your job done quickly and efficiently.
The best task management software lets you try before you buy. Some even offer basic features, such as workforce management, communication, reporting, and a built-in time clock for free.
However, if you need more advanced tools, you can often unlock them for just a few dollars per month.
Top-of-the-line task management software (such as Inch) includes automation that can help you select the best employees for a particular task.
For example, imagine that you want to assign a complicated task in the morning and have it completed by the end of the day.
With automation features, you can instruct your software to sort through relevant information — such as skills, abilities, availability, experience, and the like — to find the right employee for the job and insert them into the task schedule.
Such automation may not seem like a game-changer, but imagine this situation: It takes you five minutes to sift through all the information you need to decide who gets a certain task.
After that, you have 15 more tasks to go — each of which may take five minutes to assign. That’s 80 minutes total that could be spent on more important matters.
Automation can do all that work for you and in a fraction of the time it takes you to do it manually.
Some of the more advanced task management apps come with reporting features that allow you to analyze all manner of information, including:
Some task management software comes with access to real-time data that can help you and your team work better.
With the right app, employee information is available from the moment they clock in to the moment they clock out.
Armed with that data, you can keep track of all the comings and goings of your team and everything they do throughout the day.
Task management software may also be able to help you control labor costs — the largest expense that most businesses have to contend with.
With more advanced apps, you’ll have the tools at hand that can help you find ways to control the way your team works and the costs associated with their daily activities.
For example, the Inch app gives you the power to monitor labor costs as you assign tasks so you can prevent employees from straying into overtime territory (a labor cost that can seriously eat into your bottom line).
Inch can also help you distribute tasks equitably among all team members so that you can keep tight control of your company’s labor expenses.
An effective way to keep everyone connected and on the same page is with the notifications feature that comes with top-of-the-line task management software.
This feature allows you to:
Notifications such as these can help you create an efficient, collaborative work environment for your team — whether they work at your location, across town, or across the country.
You don’t want the type of device your employees use to become a speed bump (or, worse still, a roadblock) to their productivity.
Avoid this issue completely by choosing a task management software that is compatible with a wide range of platforms.
Inch, for example, is available for smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops on the web (i.e., in the cloud) whether they’re running Windows, Android, iOS, or MacOS.
When you implement a task management solution that is compatible with a variety of devices and operating systems, you give your team the ability to choose the interface that works best for them.
If you’re looking for the best way to bring your remote and on-site workforce into the 21st century, Inch is the task management software for your business.
We designed Inch to make it easier for managers and employees to get aligned on their to-do’s, communicate with one another, and ensure that all tasks get completed on time.
Remote and on-site team members can perform a wide variety of tasks right from their tablet or phone, including:
And the easy-to-use voice-operated interface — coupled with WiFi and cellular connectivity — means that your employees don’t have to touch the screen to get things done nor report back to the office to receive their next assignment.
For you, the manager, our task management software makes it easy to distribute tasks manually across individuals and groups or populate tasks automatically based on conditions you set.
Using this unique feature ensures that you cover all necessary work and keeps employees accountable and clear on their specific responsibilities, expected outcomes, and deadlines.
You can also assign work to the employees that are closest to the jobsite, generate tasks automatically as the need arises (e.g., automated assignments), and follow work progress and task completion in real time.
With these powerful features, Inch helps eliminate frustration for employees, headaches for managers, and inefficiencies for the business.
That’s task management for the 21st century.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit TryInch.com today.
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