Each new office seems deserving of all your time, but there are still your existing offices, whose need for attention hasn't diminished. Building, disseminating and maintaining a cohesive business strategy across multiple sites is a challenge, but you need to get it right to continue to be successful.
Step one: Information needs to be shared.
This means that no one is behind on information, and you create a sense of community. Technology makes this happen because it allows immediate, widespread communication. You must ensure that there is one main method of digital communication — inconsistently used initiatives quickly become difficult to manage effectively. Use the one tool that works well and commit to communicating relatively frequently through it. You may want to send a brief weekly email newsletter to all staff. The tricky part is working across time zones, so if possible, send official communications when all offices are open.
Step two: Your leadership team is your greatest asset.
Employing an excellent senior management team to undertake communication on the company's behalf is as important as digital communications. Have a senior management team member assist in running the firm, coordinating each office to provide local leadership. It's wise to have a strong chain of command and a team that integrates as much as possible with each other to keep everyone informed about work across the company. Strong departmental management complements the businesswide strategic vision.
Step three: Timing is everything.
It's essential to maintain a top-level presence across all offices and to be a recognizable face to all employees. If your company is based in one region, try to visit each office every month. If your firm is spread across the country, visit every two or three months. Time your visits within a week of each other and give a little more attention in your weekly email newsletter to any office that hasn't been visited in a timely manner.
It makes sense to prioritize visits according to the size of the office, while maintaining a high level of inclusion in digital communications to show staff that they are highly valued.
Step four: Integrate wherever possible.
Encourage cross-office collaboration to develop a wider understanding of the business as a whole. It's healthy to work with a number of different people and conducive to caring about the business beyond each office's four walls. One means of doing this is to give staff opportunities to shape the company's image, such as by participating in brand workshops or to be personally involved in company improvements.
Step five: Don't be afraid to try something new.
Always try new things and commit to change. What suits one business may not suit another. Be prepared to innovate to find what works for you. That's why building a personal relationship with as many employees as possible works — you're giving people a chance to mix with others they would never normally work with.
Don't forget the value of old-fashioned face time among and across teams. By encouraging this, you will contribute to successful integration and a corporate culture across geographies. Local offices need to be held accountable for quality control, scheduling and improving systems, and such efficiencies may work companywide.
All of this can seem like a lot of hard work, but splitting time between offices and building a system of shared information is crucial to the overall success of multi-office businesses. By trying to achieve equilibrium, you create a happy workforce that delivers the best results.
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