There is a big difference between operating a fully functional and established remote business and to having been forced into remote work due to Covid-19.
While some businesses have adjusted well, others are still finding their feet. For those who have found that you and your remote team are still struggling to work efficiently, we have put together some essentials for you and your team to ensure smooth efficiency during this difficult transition time.
Understand the Challenges
Understanding the obstacles that your remote team will face is key to smooth operations. Communication is going to take place in a different way. The visual cues that were possible at in person meetings are vastly diluted and even voice intonation and conversational flow can be distorted where internet connectivity is poor. Do your best to ensure that remote staff have access to good quality equipment, cameras and microphones and develop a protocol for different types of communication. So for example, when is something more suitable to email as opposed to instant message.
You can never over-communicate enough as a leader at a company, but at a remote company, nothing could be truer. Because you don’t physically see people in-person, information doesn’t spread in the same way, so leaders need to do the heavy lifting for evangelizing the message.
Access to information is also more important as the in-office filing systems and details of general office ongoings normally acquired face-to-face will be a thing of the past. Make sure that remote team members are proactively appraised of changes to staff members, business milestones and company announcements. Microsoft Teams software is a useful tool for this as it an internal intranet that you can share with remote team members which acts much like an internal website which can contain information from latest news to new hires and on-boarding processes.
Communication is going to take place in a different way.
Be aware also that your remote team members will be exposed to feelings of Isolation. Combat this by opening up a conversation around it. Be proactive. Consider a slack channel specifically for casual conversation. Appoint team members to “buddy up” with new hires to help show them the ropes during their first few weeks on the job. Share tips for overcoming isolation issues. Offer access to coping methods like meditation or yoga (check out these apps). Better yet, arrange an occasional company face to face meet up so that remote team members get to meet each other in person.
Home Infrastructure can also be a big challenge as well as the day-to-day distractions that would never occur in the office environment. Managers should be aware that remote team members may not have the physical space for a home office and that existing spaces like kitchens and living rooms will sometimes be converted for home working purposes. Child care facilities may not always be available and there will always be events that are out of the control of the team member such as a loud a bin truck operating during a zoom call, a noisy neighbor or an unexpected visitor. The best reaction is to be sympathetic when these issues arise.
Use Staff Scheduling Software
While remote work is built on trust, sometimes remote team members are not able to manage their time effectively alone. This could be due to several reasons or distractions within their work from home situation. Working from home is not suited to everyone. Using a staff scheduling software, which you can customise for your remote team members specific needs improves efficiency. You can structure your remote teams work times and hours based on the quantity of work that needs to be completed. This will give your team a clear idea of what is required of them. Here are some scheduling software options:
Do you have a large team? It can be difficult to keep in contact with everyone throughout the day and still manage your own workload.
If you have one or more supervisors within your team, nominate them as a point person for other team members, it provides an even greater support structure for your team. You can discuss the details of projects with your supervisors and have them oversee the day to day work. This will provide your team with better support and supervision, allowing you more time to deal with areas that are not yet running smoothly in the changeover from office to remote work.
Hold Regular Virtual Meetings
Place effort into maintaining contact with your team. Video call works more effectively than a phone call, instant message or email. If an employee must be present for a virtual work call, it can help to mentally prepare them for work mode. It will also help keep your team aligned on work goals. Decide on the frequency of team meetings and try to stick to it. If you are finding your team is not as engaged during video calls, then you can check our tips for How to win a virtual meetings.
Create Clear Expectations for your Team
For your team to fully understand what is expected of them, then it is first important that you clearly outline such details as turnaround times, deadlines, protocols for communication and other important aspects related to being part of your business team.
Decide on your Communication Channels
With so many communication channels available to you and your team, take the time to discuss and decide on which remote working tools best for your type of business. These can include phone, video calls, email, Slack, Skype or various messenger apps. Our team rely on Slack as we can quickly jump on a single or multi person video, share screens and files as well as instant message. This will ensure that vital details are processed quickly and effectively and reduce time wasting.
Set up and use a Project Management System
Project management systems have been around a long time and for good reason, they are especially helpful in managing remote teams. They allow you to keep your team on top of deadlines and projects. These systems will allow you to organise shared files, documents and conversations, while you create projects in easy manageable steps.
We’ve tried a few of them and our favourite is Asana. It’s great not only for simple things like to do lists and allocating individual responsibility (and accountability!) but also for creating and allowing teams to follow Standard Operating Practices. You can also use it for and file sharing and message communication.
For real time collaboration on files, try Dropbox Paper or Microsoft One Drive. Both allow you to see each others changes on screen and in real time and avoid file duplication. One Drive also has a cool feature where you can retrieve prior revisions of a document which is handy if someone makes a mistake.
Keep Remote Workers in the Loop
Remote workers can sometimes feel isolated or detached from the company, it is essential to ensure remote teams feel like they are still part of decision making process within the company. A talented remote team that feels included in the business are less likely to be tempted by job offers from other companies.
Use Video Chat Often
While the various messaging apps, email or phone calls are great for quick interactions, it is essential to regularly chat on video with your team. When handling issues such as performance or conflict then it is important that these issues are being handled through video call or in person. This will allow both parties a clearer idea of each other’s vocal tone and expressions when dealing with the situation and will avoid miscommunication. Try Zoom, Slack or Skype for some of the best video conferencing technology options. Zoom also lets you take remote control of a screens.
Meet in Person at least Once/Twice a year
While having a highly talented remote team is the dream for your business, you should never underestimate the power of meeting face to face for improved collaboration. Through your team meet ups, they will get to know each other better allowing increased collaboration possibilities, boost morale and build relationships. Make your team feel valued and give your catch up a pro feel by booking a meeting room.