Having multiple locations can be advantageous to business. One advantage is that the business can serve their clients more effectively and resolution to issues can be made more quickly if there’s a local counterpart of the business nearby.
As with anything, there are two sides of the coin. Let’s discuss the common problems of businesses with multiple locations, and the solutions to these issues.
For multiple locations, emails are often the most used method of communication. Office staff who rely on this heavily often lose a lot of time looking for topics and email threads.
There is also the danger of having too many emails to too many people. Since the number of staff copied on each email increases with every email reply, it can potentially waste other people’s time not directly involved in the issue at hand.
How can we best manage this?
Using email as a primary tool for communication for multiple locations is great, but this is not as effective when used for customer service, maintenance, repairs, bulletins, sales, etc.
Establish a portal where people can see bulletins and maintenance activities. This way it will not clutter the email inboxes.
Tracking and resolution of issues for multiple locations can be difficult. Going back and forth via phone can decrease productivity as well.
What can we do?
Grouping related issues together and listing down the steps to resolve these issues. This way, minor and routine issues gets resolved immediately and escalate the most critical.
Sending paperwork between multiple locations can be problematic at times. Paperwork could be reports, expense claims, etc. Sometimes, it is necessary to send these through the mail, and it can be costly.
With this, efficiency is lost when important information is not found.
How to resolve this?
Companies can set up enterprise content services so that information and documents can be had wherever you are when you want it. Enterprise content services also limit the risk of having unauthorized individuals see eyes-only documents by defining different data access levels.
Weak Company Culture
People working together close can get tribal easily. The mentality of ‘us and them’ can lead to poor teamwork between multiple locations. Having multiple locations can lead to having multiple cultures within the organization.
It can also be difficult to set expectations that are clear to all. Emails can be interpreted differently and establishing confidence between management and staff can be very challenging.
How to address this?
While constant general assembly can be cost prohibitive, having local town hall meetings regularly with key officers can address information dissemination among staff. A conference call between teams from multiple locations can help set expectations more clearly. Minutes of the call can be sent to all participants to make sure all are on the same page.
Having staff exchange program can help bridge the gap between differing company cultures. People from the same team from different locations can be exchanged once in a while so that knowledge and experience can be disseminated as well.
As companies go global, we can expect that more and more companies are going to have multiple locations. The good thing is that technology has afforded businesses to be mobile and to establish offices where they can lessen the cost of operations.