Managing Fragmented Workforces

There are many positives to hybrid and decentralized work, such as employment opportunities for people once ignored due to their location. But as we all know, it’s not plain sailing, and many challenges lie ahead that seemingly few seem to want to acknowledge, let alone address. Few organizations have addressed the monumental challenge of transforming how to manage teams and individuals remotely or, for that matter, how those remote workers access critical information in a fragmented organizational structure. If some were to be believed, providing remote workers access to Slack and Zoom solves every remote working problem. Not so, as our research revealed (on behalf of Guru and Loom) last year, it can even make the situation worse. Sharing trusted and actionable information to the right person at the right time in the correct format, the core premise of Knowledge Management, is a long way from being a solved problem. In practice, it is at best a mish-mash of human-led, clunky workarounds.

Similarly, managing the day-to-day activities of a distributed workforce (increasingly a mix of digital and human workers) requires new methodologies, technologies, and approaches. Endless emails and tedious Zoom-based staff meetings won’t cut it, particularly so if you are tasked with capacity and availability planning across remote teams. Technologies to help are available; ActiveOps, for example, has a system to help with hybrid work capacity planning and forecasting. Guru mentioned above and Microsoft Viva Topics can help in the KM space. As of today, the problem is not so much a lack of technology to help us make this work shift; the problem is that organizations are still trying to hammer square pegs into round holes. Organizations and workforces are becoming ever more decentralized, but the work of figuring out methods to manage this shift effectively is still in its infancy. We need much more discussion, analysis, and, frankly, much more consideration given to the practicalities of managing workers (human and digital) and information in this new world.

The shoulder tap has gone, and the lunch and break time discussions are no more. People themselves are working and living in ever more decentralized ways. For Deep Analysis, that may mean chatting to a client in Australia at 6 am in Philadelphia with my colleagues in the UK and Canada joining the call. For others, that means being a part of a close-knit working team once situated in a Washington, DC office, now dispersed across states and time zones.

Add to all this the fact that Knowledge hoarders are more empowered than ever, and office-based control freak micro managers are flailing. Without communication-centric technologies for chat and video, many organizations would be unable to work. However, along with creating new problems of their own, they only scratch the surface of the challenges of informing and managing workforces effectively and efficiently. Though the focus today for many organizations is understandably to automate more and more work, providing accurate insights into work activities and information resources should be fighting out at the top of the agenda for attention.

If you are a buyer or user of legal technology and wondering how to navigate these difficult times, we have a free – yup, free – confidential advisory service for you. A service that means all you have to do is find a time on our calendar.

If you are a seller of legal technology, then, like many others, you may be reassessing your current business, pricing, or go-to-market strategies to adapt to these turbulent times. Again feel free to reach out and chat with us as we may be able to help by providing some critical but constructive advice and support.

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