Whether you planned for it or not, or whether it was already part of your talent attraction strategy, our current circumstances have forced us to scramble and figure out how we can continue running and managing remote teams more efficiently.
No matter how we fare out of this coronavirus situation, we will definitely see a long-lasting impact on how we are going to work going forward. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, 43% of all US employees work off-site today. This number is showing no signs of stopping with the new generation of workers demanding more work flexibility, and remote work options from their employers. As you prepare to attract these new employees into your organization or weather the current storm, you will have to adapt and learn how to remain productive, while offering flexible work options.
As we evolve towards remote working, the people managers and supervisors definitely have their work cut out for them. Managers have benefited most from personal engagement, and extending that influence to people they might rarely see or even know will be an uphill challenge. To face this future workplace, managers and supervisors will need to become even more creative in ensuring that teams continue to remain collaborative, engaged, and productive.
Here are some tips that can hopefully help you lay out a good foundation:
1. Remain accessible
Offer multiple ways for your teams to get in touch with you. Remember your local team members can easily stop by your desk, bump into you in the hallways, go out for lunch with you, etc. The remote team members don’t have that kind of access to you and they could easily feel disengaged or distant. Prioritizing your interactions with them and putting in an extra effort to respond to them quickly will make them feel valued and can go a long way in ensuring team engagement.
2. Set clear expectations
When you are not seeing each other face-to-face you don’t have the opportunity to be proactive or know when someone is heading off in the wrong direction. Being deliberate about articulating the objectives, expected results, and deadlines can help your team from getting derailed. Providing as much information as regularly as you can, will stand to serve both you and your team. Armed with ample data, they are bound to make more informed decisions and not hesitate to return the favor by keeping you in the loop as frequently as they can.
3. Regular communication and engagement
Try to make your first choice of communication video-based, whenever possible. If that is not a viable option, go to phone, and thereafter, email, chat, or text. Nothing beats meeting face-to-face, even if it is virtual. Video conveys way more about someone’s overall mood than an audio-only call or especially chat. Plan regularly scheduled coaching and one-on-one meetings. Constant interaction will help remote workers feel included and less likely to sit in isolation and brew over negative assumptions and speculations.
4. Focus on outcomes, not hours
It is very easy to feel anxious about team members misusing work from home opportunities to goof and laze around. When executed correctly, remote working has shown to increase productivity within employees. If trust is a concern, put together some work-from-home guidelines, such as how soon should emails be responded to, texting for urgency, hours of work so no one is expected to work 24 hours. Don’t stress over how many hours someone is working, trust your team to work at a flexible schedule as long as expected results and deadlines are being met.
5. Be fair across the board
Don’t find excuses for your remote workers, especially if they are not delivering results like your local teams are. Your mission, vision, and values are as applicable to your remote workers as they are to the local employees. Hold all members (remote or local) to the same level of accountability, offer the same level of feedback and performance reviews, offer the same type of growth opportunities, and consider everyone’s career paths. Just because someone is working remotely doesn’t mean that they are not privy to career development and growth.
6. Invest in technology
Don’t let weak technology solutions be an excuse. Make sure you and your teams are equipped with the technology needed to get the work done. If calls are being dropped, meetings are being cancelled, decisions are not inclusive because of bad technology, then you have failed to address the basics. Collaboration is your number one priority and making sure everyone has the tools to do the work you are expecting them to do is your responsibility.
Here are some of the tools you can consider for getting your remote teams up and running:
- Communication: Slack, Google Chat
- Meetings: Google Hangouts, Skype, GoToMeeting, FaceTime, Join.me
- Project Management: Trello, Asana
- Document Collaboration: Google Docs, Office 365
- HCSS Products: HCSS Cloud
- Online drive storage: Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive
If you need any help, please feel free to reach out to our support, or your HCSS contact. We are here to get you through this time, and help prepare you for whatever the future looks like.