With the recession leading to businesses moving beyond the confines of the company headquarters, we see companies exploring new ways to retain and continue tapping into their pool of experts. A strategic decision gaining ground is to allow employees to work remotely. Increasingly, research teams too are moving from co-located (located in one office) teams to geographically dispersed teams.
Dispersed team structures can offer huge benefits — efficiency, cost savings, and the ability to choose team members with the best skills, regardless of their location. While this structure has its advantages, ask any manager (even the most experienced) and you’ll hear – “managing a dispersed research team presents huge challenges.” Think – distrust and lack of visibility, gap in knowledge-sharing and, the absence of a feeling of a “team”.
Despite tackling these challenges with tried-and-tested solutions which involve senior leadership support, increased managerial time and org-wide investments (e.g., technology and training), managers still struggle to get the manager-team member equation right in a dispersed set-up.
Why is it that companies fail in spite of their best efforts? MREB’s study on Managing Dispersed Research Teams shows that there are hidden “softer” pitfalls that are overlooked by most managers. The secret lies in knowing what signs to watch out for and working consistently to getting to the bottom of them.
Take a closer look at what effective managers of dispersed research teams do differently, and how they realign their management approach on three key areas: