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Nurturing Global Workplace Connections

Organizations should recognize that it takes more than an e-mail to connect with employees.

August 30, 2001
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Related Topics: Managing International Operations, Telecommuting
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Managing a workforce spread out from Milan to Montreal, Milwaukee to Manila,is a tough job that requires special skills. That goes for companies of allsizes, whether the task is telling employees about internal developments orconveying a change in corporate strategy, training salespeople about productupdates, or just helping employees feel connected to the organization.

    Some companies are a lot better at it than others.There are those that look to outsourcers for expertise and to gain efficiencieswhen dealing with operational systems in distant locales and handling internalsystems such as benefits administration and payroll. Others prefer to keep operationsand administration in-house no matter how geographically dispersed the workforce.Many turn to technology.

    A Web site can create a sense of connection and helpdistant employees exchange information. But organizations still have to be surethat employees have computers with Internet connections, and should recognizethat it takes more than an e-mail to connect with employees, says Gary Parker,senior vice president and practice chairman of international compensation forChicago-based Aon Corporation, one of the world's largest insurance brokerageand consulting firms.

    "You and I can read the written word, but we mightnot understand it the same way," Parker says. "That written word hasto be reinforced with the living word and it also has to be reinforced by action."Aon has about 51,000 employees in more than 550 offices in 120 countries. Yetmanagers are still expected to deliver messages to field operations. At somepoint, there has to be face-to-face communication, Parker says. "You can'tdo everything by e-mail."

    Here's a look at how three different-sized companiesdeal with their own uniquely spread-out workforces.

Workforce, September 2001, pp. 76-81 -- SubscribeNow!

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