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Maximize productivity in remote teams by promoting cross-functional learning beyond departmental boundaries. Discover why fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing across different departments is essential for remote teams to thrive, and how it can enhance team performance and innovation.
Looking at today's market, finding employees that are experienced and have a high level of knowledge in the field is really important. But as time goes on, working conditions change and requirements for top-class workers also evolve. Nowadays, knowing only what your job requires you to know is seen as a disadvantage and most companies are looking for workers who are able to operate in cross-functional teams where everyone is familiar with the whole process.
Cross-functional teams are teams composed of people from different departments. Members of cross-functional teams are usually required to know the work different departments members are doing and have some level of familiarity with it. These team members are also required to work together in order to achieve the task and should not approach everything individually. This brings a lot of benefits to companies that implement these cross-functional teams, but what are these benefits exactly?
There are many reasons why cross-functional teams are gaining popularity in modern work environments and the benefits brought by these teams are enormous. One of the most important factors that contribute to the mass adoption of cross-functional teams is the popularization of the Scrum work methodology, which removes hierarchy and requires teams to self-organize and create a smooth workflow.
But the main factor that contributed towards the popularization of cross-functional teams is the large number of benefits it brings to the company and the work process. When a team is cross-functional it becomes much easier to face different challenges, as communication between departments is smoother and comes with less red tape. Thus it becomes much easier to coordinate different tasks across different departments such as sales, marketing, and so on. It also becomes easier to focus on setting larger goals, as the company is working as one big team.
Cross-functional teams make it easier to introduce new products and innovations. When different departments are working independently without any proper cross-communication with other sections of the company, it becomes much harder to spot certain problems or opportunities. This results in the company missing out on potential development opportunities or they might overlook important flaws, leaving them unable to find the cause or the solution to these problems.
But with cross-functional teams, different departments can easily collaborate and share their ideas and the challenges that they face. This makes it much easier for companies to spot opportunities and figure out where their challenges lie. Once a problem gets spotted, it is quickly solved through good communication between all the departments, and the needed changes become simple to implement.
When it comes to work environments that benefit most from cross-functional operations, a company that relies heavily on remote positions will find no fault with this approach. Communication and collaboration are two important aspects of having a smooth workflow, and these are also two of the most obvious challenges faced by companies whose workforce operates in remote positions.
When team members are working from remote locations their communication is solely through digital platforms and social media, which is a very ineffective way to communicate in working environments. As technology and work methodologies are advancing, it is becoming easier to have your workers work in remote positions and still manage to run a company seamlessly. But if you are aiming for high goals, this is where some of these communication problems come into play.
Because of this, having cross-functional teams in remote positions is a must if a company wants to see success. When people working in remote positions form cross-functional teams, it becomes much easier for them to communicate as they are interacting with each other on a constant basis and it is not all too simple to communicate between different departments. For example, with the development of technology, a large number of fintech companies started to show up, which has birthed very intense competition in the market. These fintech companies usually employ remote workers in order to save on operating costs. Because of this, workers who specialize in IT, financial markets, marketing, project management, and so on, have to communicate with each other through the internet to help push the fintech venture forward.
In order to keep up with the competition and make themselves stand out in this crowded market, these fintech companies have started to encourage cross-functional learning. Because of this, the workflow in these companies is good and they are able to work across different markets on a global scale with the majority of workers being in remote positions.
There are many ways to encourage your employees working from remote locations to learn and adapt to a cross-functional workstyle. This is not an easy task that can be setup in a short period of time, as it requires planning and should consist of several steps. It is also important to make sure that this is a continuous process and it should not be a one-off thing.
One of the first steps that companies should take in order to successfully implement cross-functional teams is to encourage communication between people working indifferent departments. In the case of remote work, this is a hard task to accomplish as these communications are done through an online landscape which is not the best place for fostering strong communication.
One of the best practices for this is to organize get-togethers if possible. If a company's workforce is located in one country, it should not be challenging to organize certain company events where employees will be able to meet each other and get to know the team outside of the digital landscape. But if this is not possible due to logistical or economic constraints, there are some different ways in which communication between workers can be achieved. Once these first steps have been taken, then work-related communication will become much easier and companies will be able to encourage employees to communicate with each other much better, since these employees are already familiar with each other and won’t have certain boundaries when communicating.
This step should be introduced simultaneously with the previous one. When a company consists of different departments, there are times when different departments use different software programs or platforms to communicate within their departments. This limits the potential of cross-department communication as some departments are unfamiliar with certain communication platforms. It might even be difficult for them to use multiple communication channels in order to conduct communication inside and outside of the department.
Because of this, it is essential to have one universal communication platform that will be used by everyone in the organization. This software should be used for both internal department communication and cross-departmental communication as well. With this setup, employees will not need to adjust to different communication channels and they will need to know only one software. This will help to make communication much more efficient and fast, which in turn will help the company to operate faster and more effectively.
One of the most important things that cross-functional teams need is shared goals. But when it comes to reinforcing these shared goals it is important to consider both the personal goals of employees and company goals as well. Since cross-functional teams mix employees from different departments together, reinforcing these goals becomes a bit challenging. Different departments will have different types of workers who have different interests in life and might be aspiring to different goals. For example, people working in the IT department will have different goals from people who work in marketing even if they are in the same cross-functional teams. It is important to make sure that each employee's goals are satisfied and that no one department is prioritized over the others.
Once these personal goals are met, the focus shift toward company goals will become much easier. When employees see that their goals are being satisfied and they are not looked down on, they tend to work harder, and hard workers will try to achieve company goals as they realize that this will help them in personal development as well.
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