With these 3 tips you’ll keep your consultants involved with your company
In the consultancy industry, you can usually find consultants working more often at a client’s office, than at their own head quarters. That’s nothing new. How can you make sure that they don’t lose the bond they have with you, their employer, when they’re working remotely fulltime?
Running gag? What did I miss?
It’s a known situation in this industry: a client needs help with a project and asks a consultant to work at their office. No problem! Until the project is extended with a few months. And with anóther few months. Before you know it, consultants are working at the client’s office for such a long time, they feel more connected with the client than they do with you – their own employer. And that’s when it dóes become a problem.
When consultants are working on a long-term project, there’s a realistic change they eventually see no more of their employer than their paycheck. They’re unaware of the new project that’s coming up, they’re missing the running gag about the new coffee machine, they don’t know about the unexpected wedding of their colleague: all sorts of things go right past them and their connection with their employer slowly fades away. No fun for the consultant ánd the employer.
Let me introduce myself… again
Eventually, the consultant might even dread the moment the project is finished and he has to report back to the head office. After being away for months, he can feel like he has to start all over again: internal developments went past him, he doesn’t exactly know what to do if he has to support new clients and he can feel insecure if he has to replace a colleague that’s leaving for holidays.
Fortunately, there are many options companies can use to safeguard their connection with their remote-working employees.
1. Use online tools
Share developments via online tools, such as chat programs and social media channels. Within inQdo, we use Slack. A simple tool which allows employers to communicate with each other individually and within groups. Also, we’re posting a weekly update on Google+ in which we introduce our newest clients and tell where our next company outing will take place, which colleagues helped with the latest go-live of a project and which upcoming events we’ll attend. And we’re álways asking our colleagues to share their own updates in the comments: if you ask us, communication goes both ways.
2. Organize knowledge sharing sessions and company outings
Online solutions are perfect to keep employers updated on internal developments. But these aren’t comprehensive. The bond between employer and employee also consists of ’emotion’. Offline solutions are therefore very important: moments in which colleagues see each other in real life. You can organize knowledge sharing sessions, informal meetings and company outings. Every setting will create a surprising atmosphere and the consultants will quickly remember why they choose working for your company in the first place.
At our office, every two months we organize knowledge sharing sessions. During these sessions, our colleagues tell each other about the clients their working at, they find themselves in (sometimes hour-long!) discussions on what supposedly is the best solution for a problem and our Managing Partners share information about new clients and prospects. Also, we organize company outings four times a year. These are great, because we’re getting to know each other in a very different way than while we’re working. I mean, just try to discuss that complex integration issue while you’re panting and trying out your newly learned moves at a kickbox practice. 😉
3. Invite your client
Switch it up: invite a client to yóur office! Frequently, consultants don’t exactly know how their work influences the client’s workflow. So, why not invite an enthusiastic client to tell something about the project that was carried out at his office?! You’ll probably get tons of registrations for this meeting. Recently, we invited our client Bureau Zuidema to tell something about a project we finalized: this meeting was very fun!
Do you have any tips on how to update remote-working colleagues on internal developments? Let us know.