Much of the working world has gone remote. Is your company one of the early adopters, or is your leadership still grappling with a work arrangement thrust upon them by COVID-19? Remote work is a completely new animal compared to a more traditional, in-office environment. As the world of work changes, so should your management approach.
To put your team on the path to remote work success, you have to think differently. When employees are in different physical spaces, impromptu chats and other proximity-based opportunities are nonexistent. Make the shift to remote work a smooth one with these five tips.
1. Empower Your Employees to Manage Their Own Time
Remote work offers your team a long list of advantages. One major benefit is the recapturing of time often lost in lengthy commutes, morning prep time, and household needs. Most workers can expect to regain at least an hour of their previously lost time. But just because your employees have regained this time, does it mean they should give it to you?
Remote work gives employees more control of their time than ever. They now have autonomy where, before, they may have been held to a strict schedule. Leverage this newfound freedom by establishing an asynchronous communication approach with your team.
In an asynchronous work environment, employees are encouraged to perform their tasks how and when it works for them. Colleagues are encouraged to align their expectations with this communication approach. Instead of requiring attendance at specific meetings, workers can collaborate through chat channels, collaboration spaces, or email. Teams can set expectations regarding response times that allow for colleagues to follow up based on their preferred work style.
2. Foster a Candid Culture
Face-to-face communication has numerous benefits, but many of those go out the door in a remote environment. Even when using video meetings, many vital components of collaborative communication fall by the wayside. Combat this issue by creating a candid culture. When it comes to work, candor can help cut through the fog that often arises, even among cohesive teams.
The art of being candid can be tricky to pull off. Some folks may find that it’s too direct or even pushy. To coach your team to adopt an open, candid communication style, lead by example.
Establish a culture of honest, timely communication for everything your team does. Encourage team members to share openly about project wins and problems. Praise and publicly acknowledge team members when they display candid communication practices. When you’ve all bought into this communication style, remote work can thrive.
3. Commit to Collaboration Software
If you’re not with your team in-person, what’s the best way to collaborate? Today, the obvious answer is to use collaboration software. With multiple options for both traditional and creative teams, you’ve got a good chance of finding a solution that fits.
Collaboration software allows teams to chat, set meetings with audio and video capabilities, and even share project plans. Tools like Microsoft Planner can easily integrate into existing systems, which can further streamline workplace tools. Mobile-friendly tools like ClickUp allow for tagging, which can facilitate focused communication. This feature is especially helpful for teams that work across time zones or with full, part-time, or even contract colleagues.
Once you’ve picked the tool that you think will work best for your company, offer robust training. Without proper training, it’s likely your team will become disengaged, as not everyone will feel empowered to use it. Create a launch plan for your chosen tool and consistent training over the first three months of its implementation. Encourage your managers and directors to champion the tool. With focused effort, you can expect your teams to collaborate even better than when they were together in the office.
4. Invest in the Right Equipment
Outfitting your team with the right equipment can be the difference-maker between productivity and lagging results. Consider the different needs for a remote employee versus an in-office colleague.
Before you submit an order to procurement, ask for feedback from employees at all levels. What a call center representative may need may not be apparent to a director-level colleague. Review the amenities you supply for your in-office team and make sure to fill any gaps for remote workers.
Keep cybersecurity top of mind as you consider equipment purchases. Typically, company-vetted equipment is the most secure, as it’s gone through your well-established IT procedures. If you allow your employees to bring their own devices or use them at home, establish parameters. With a security plan in place, you can be more confident that the equipment employees are using does not pose a threat.
5. Institute Meeting-Free Time Blocks
Remote work offers time flexibility. It can also result in time blindness when it comes to establishing boundaries between work and life.
Empower your team to set strict boundaries around personal tasks and needs as well as work productivity. Remote work is a work location, not a benefit offered in exchange for more work time and less personal time. Your employees should be fulfilled in work and life — a goal more easily met when they have space for family and relaxation.
An easy and culture-friendly way to give your employees much-needed space for productivity is to institute meeting-free time blocks. For some companies, this may mean that meetings cannot be scheduled on certain days or parts of days. This gives your employees open space to do deep, analytical work.
By providing these set meeting-free times, your employees won’t have to set their own boundaries. Instead, everyone knows what days and times are fair game for meetings. Teams can condense meetings into designated days and gain uninterrupted productivity during the meeting-free blocks.
Champion the Way Forward
You’re leading the way toward the future of work. One thing the pandemic is teaching the working world is that work doesn’t have to take place in an office. Work can take place nearly anywhere, with the right talent, equipment, and planning. Your attention to making remote work productive will result in a nimble and forward-thinking team and a workplace that evolves as needs dictate.
A key component to successful remote work is trust. Your team members must trust one another to get the job done, even when it’s not being done face-to-face. Build your remote-first organization with trust as its foundation, and you will achieve great results.