As companies throughout the country mandate work from home policies, there are many challenges that arise.
Managing remote teams is new territory for many and can be a disruption to production if not properly managed. However, this situation presents an opportunity to learn how to manage a workforce that can have great long-term benefits.
Virtual remote teams have been part of the fabric of our business at Talent Retriever for over 15 years. This has allowed for a more seamless transition into this adjusted work environment. We know the challenges it presents – and we know what it takes to be successful. As your workforce faces a transition into operating remotely, here are 5 strategies to consider.
1. Align Expectations to Remain Virtually Accessible
Establish a plan within your team to ensure each member is accessible and able to collaborate with any stakeholder necessary to get their job done. Besides remaining accessible through chat, email and over the phone, it is equally important to ensure that everyone remains available during the same core hours of business. Since employees are not physically in the office, they should be clear in their availability. If someone is sick or needs to step away for an appointment, their OOO notifications should reflect that.
People should set their calendar permission settings to make their schedule include full details instead of marking timeslots with “busy.”
2. Monitor Productivity and Drive Action
Leaders can fall victim to measuring performance by time spent in the office. In a remote environment – that’s no longer the case. To measure success, it’s important to set daily and weekly goals. Set a time with your team, daily or weekly, to check in on the progress of goals and status of projects. If a tracking document is more effective, build something simple that can be used for collaborative updates.
For example, in the document include: Priorities, Completed Tasks, Upcoming Tasks and Challenges/Delays. This will hold employees accountable and drive action.
3. Maintain Personal Interaction
Working remotely is a big adjustment and often leads to a feeling of disconnect that can effect productivity and engagement. To alleviate this hurdle, encourage ways to maintain a level of personal interaction that would normally take place in the office. If your company hosts weekly social events – find ways to translate this to an online activity. This could mean hosting an online trivia game or have a video line that people can dial into during lunch. Make it authentic to your culture.
Here’s an idea – host a virtual “Cribs” where folks give a live look into their new at-home workspace. It’s a fun way to bring the team together in these trying circumstances.
4. Keep Regularly Scheduled Meetings
Don’t allow employees to fall into the habit of pushing things off until everyone can meet in the office. Find ways to get the most out of virtual meetings. Determine the best way to screen-share and resume all the normal activity you would have at an in-person meeting.
For one-on-one meetings - be conscious of communicating through personal channels such as video conferencing, FaceTime, and phone calls. You don’t want to only rely on email and chat. This can diminish idea sharing and creativity.
5. Prepare with Technology that Gets the Job Done
Ensure all employees have adequate technology to get their work done from home, as they would on a typical day in the office. Be prepared to invest in mobile hot spots or reimburse for data plans. It’s also important to use a secured Wi-Fi network and a trusted virtual private network (VPN). The VPN serves as a buffer between the Wi-Fi connection and your mobile device or laptop and allows for transmitted data to be encrypted to protect it from tampering and interception. For companies that work with secure data – this is critical.
Also – remind employees that with so much of the country’s workforce now being remote - there may be an uptick in fishing emails and cybercrime. Emphasize being careful with any suspicious emails that are received.
The coronavirus is a major disruption in many facets of life. But like all major disruptions – this too shall pass. In the meantime – using strategies like these to manage a remote work force will minimize the amount of challenges employees face within their work week. If you have questions on how to manage remote teams – do not hesitate to utilize Talent Retriever as a resource.