Lessons and stories about business operations related to managing, leading, and developing people.

Your 4-Step Plan for Managing Multiple Offices

Your 4-Step Plan for Managing Multiple Offices

Managing one office is a handful, but managing dozens or hundreds of employees across multiple locations? Well, that’s a whole new level of intensity.

In addition to staying on top of day-to-day operations like payroll, insurance, and keeping track of employee time off, there’s the logistical issue of staying in touch with all those people spread out across different locations. But as many successful companies have shown, it’s possible to manage and lead employees in several different offices—and get results, not to mention, maintain a company culture.

With careful planning and smart technology, HR leaders can run many locations smoothly and help their companies succeed.

Let’s take a look at four key practices that will set your team up up for success, no matter where they are.

1. Train coaches or leaders for smaller teams

Robin Broadnax is the director of organizational development in the Sisters of Charity Health System in Columbia, SC. She recently shared her mission to transform her organization’s HR department. Broadnax was hired to make the hospitals and employees in the health system more efficient and accountable. She interviewed dozens of executives and leaders to learn about the organization and why past similar efforts hadn’t been successful. What she found was that while employees had received plenty of training in the past, there had been no follow-up to ensure they were actually retaining the skills they were being taught.

Broadnax decided to reinvigorate the organization by selecting forty of the most highly engaged employees and training them as coaches. These employees led monthly coaching groups of three or four managers. At the meetings, they discussed issues like leadership skills and employee performance.

Essentially, these coaches were acting as surrogates for HR. By paying attention to on-the-job performance, they were able to stay on top of interpersonal issues and help keep things running smoothly on a branch level.

The takeaway: HR managers should stay in touch with a network of trusted leaders across company departments. These trusted coaches can regularly communicate your organization’s  vision and help alleviate issues before they become a larger problem that HR has to be called in to handle. This approach can also provide visibility into the operations of different branches to streamline processes across the board.

2. Use technology to automate repetitive tasks and track talent

Leveraging technology to streamline operations seems like common sense. We do it in nearly all aspects of our lives. But sometimes, HR teams find it difficult to embrace technology and modernize their day-to-day work.

Despite the multitude of options out there for simplifying most HR functions, far too many companies—particularly in the medical industry—still rely on paper records and systems that were out of date years ago.

This is especially problematic in the healthcare industry, where:

  • Employees have a vast range of skill sets to keep track of
  • The stakes are high. Employees are responsible for human lives
  • Every minute counts. Employees are busy and report high levels of stress. They don’t have time to answer the same HR questions over and over, or to try to decipher complex policies around something like vacation time

It may feel like you never have enough time to set up a new system. As a result, many medical facilities struggle through with the same inefficient process they’ve been using for years. This is the case in any fast-paced industry—it’s worth the initial time investment to reap the benefits of huge time savings and increased efficiencies.

Allay tip: A platform like Allay is easy to set up, and can simplify the processes of onboarding employees, tracking payroll, and explaining benefits for any multi-site medical facility.

When you’re working in a smaller office, it’s easy to get to know everyone. You can quickly familiarize yourself with teammate backgrounds and skillsets. However, the situation is very different in a large company with hundreds of employees across several international offices.

Even if you allotted time to travel to different offices, it’s not possible to keep up-to-date with the skillsets, certifications and potential upward mobility of every employee. You may only interact with some employees through occasional emails or phone calls, or not at all. That’s why tracking this information through software is so important.

Good HR software keeps track of the education, certifications, and other skillsets of employees. That way, when there is a vacancy within the company, it’s easy to quickly determine if you have the talent in-house to fill the position. It allows you to know where your employees are and be able to better match their skills with your evolving needs. It can help avoid having to look for an outside hire, which can be a much more time-consuming process.

Allay tip: This is another great benefit of choosing Allay as your HR platform. We track everything from licences and certifications employees have to their favorite restaurant orders or laptop number. All the information you need in one spot.

Looking to attract talent in the first place? Here’s what you need to do.

3. Establish strong communication between offices

Communication between different offices can be a challenge, particularly if they’re in different time zones all over the country or world. There are a few approaches that can help boost communication between branches:

5 tips for establishing effective communication between multiple offices:

  • Schedule weekly meetings at a set time, either via telephone or video conferencing.

Video calls may seem unnecessary, but face-to-face interactions are an important part of building strong relationships between co-workers—especially if they’re working on the other side of the country. Tools like Skype and Google Hangouts can help you build a closer working relationship with employees in other locations. Just make sure you keep conversations to non-HIPPA content.

  • Set up programs for real-time communication.

Of course, time zones will be a factor to consider here, but programs like Slack (and others which are HIPPA compliant) are the new norm for day-to-day team communication both within and across offices. Slack allows team members to chat in real-time one-on-one, or in specific channels (either public or private) with invited team members, with plenty of extra features to encourage employee participation (you can schedule reminders, send gifs, and sync the platform up with other tools like time sheets or cloud storage). Look to project management tools like Asana to keep teams aligned and to track progress on important company initiatives.

  • Make sure important documents are accessible by everyone who needs them.

Keep certain company documents in the cloud so that employees can access what they need when they need it (brand guidelines, policies, or things that you would widely share). Or make sure team leads have access to the same HR management dashboard so all information is easily accessible for them to share with their direct teams.

  • Have the company CEO or other top executives visit all of the offices occasionally.

Doing this monthly is ideal, but even quarterly visits can do wonders to improve efficiency and relationships in the company. This helps build a feeling of interconnectedness and comradery between branches. It also allows company leaders identify practices that are working well in some locations and implement those best practices across the company. Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren used this strategy, visiting store locations with as little as 10 minutes of warning. It worked: Macy’s same-store sales grew at a rate of almost double the national department store average in 2012.

  • Try to get all of your employees together for a large conference or meeting.

This can be a great way for employees to unwind for a few days in a more casual setting. It also provides an opportunity clarify goals, offer training, and emphasize the company’s mission for months to come. While webcams and phone calls can be great for communicating basic information, nothing beats in-person interaction.

4. Focus your time on the things that only you are able to do, and leverage technology and your team to look after other tasks

The more employees a company has, the more complicated your job as an HR professional becomes. Add in multiple locations spanning several cities or states, and the job becomes exponentially more complex. However, with the right approach, managing dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of different employees across multiple locations is not only possible, but doable.

Automate as many of your processes as possible, and stay in touch with representatives in each location. They can help summarize branch activity and keep things running smoothly.

If you follow this advice, you’ll be well on your way to successfully guiding your employees wherever they work from.

Ready to save time and money running HR for your multi-facility company? Let’s get started.

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