Empower your Remote Workforce
Let’s face it: working from home is here to stay. And if you want your business to continue to succeed, it’s critical to adopt WFH policies and practices that were good enough to merely get you through the crisis into something that you can scale and continue indefinitely as a team.
Running a business with next to no face-to-face interaction is hard; maintaining culture, job satisfaction and a sense of control are some of the first things to go. But there are ways to make the “new normal” work for you. Here are 3 tips to help you make remote work and collaboration more sustainable and successful:
Tip #1: Establish common goals, policies, and expectations.
It’s crucial to ensure employees are working towards the same goals, informed by your company’s values. It’s even more critical when you’re leading a distributed team that each employee understands what makes the business or team successful and is committed to helping achieve it.
Do your remote employees understand what it takes to help the business succeed? Stop what you’re doing and ask your team members that question. (Seriously. Ask them.) Establishing and sharing common goals is the first step to genuinely connecting your virtual team. Once you’ve nailed that down, it’s time to communicate guidelines that reflect and support your core mission.
Communicate your remote work policies & expectations.
Almost all workplace conflicts stem from poor communication or a lack of clear expectations. Never assume your employees know what you expect. Remote work means different things to different people. Here are a few things to consider as you develop policies for your virtual team.
Working hours - when to start; how to handle time zones; hours works vs. results
Communication response times - when are you expected to respond
Time-off requests - establish a shared vacation calendar
Meetings - how often and how long should they be
Offer encouragement and emotional support - Especially in the context of an abrupt shift to remote work, it is important for managers to acknowledge stress, listen to employees’ anxieties and concerns, and empathise with their struggles. If a newly remote employee is clearly struggling but not communicating stress or anxiety, ask them how they’re doing.
Keep in mind that regular meetings with management aren't a silver bullet. Establishing clear lines of communication amongst peers is another critical part of the equation, which brings us to the second tip.
Tip #2: Communicate Regularly, Clearly, and Effectively
According to research from Software Advice, 38 percent of employees said communication was more difficult on virtual projects. The same study cited communication as the single greatest threat to successful and productive virtual teams. Modern technology can help, but communication must still be clear, compelling, and regular.
Establish structured daily check-ins - Successful remote managers establish a daily call with their remote employees. This could take the form of a series of one-on-one calls, or a team call if the work is highly collaborative. The important feature is that the calls are regular and predictable, and that they are a forum in which employees know that they can consult with you, and that their concerns and questions will be heard.
Video is your friend - It’s hard to beat face-to-face interactions, but video can go a long way in helping your team bridge that gap.
Use collaborative chat channels - Unified communications tools with group chat and messaging can offer topic-based channels for quick brainstorming sessions, status updates, and friendly banter. Bonus: those conversations are archived and searchable, so you won’t sit down at your desk and forget what your coworker just said about that deadline.
Provide opportunities for remote social interaction – One of the most essential steps you can take is to structure ways for employees to interact socially (informal conversations non-work related) while working remotely. This is true for all remote workers, but particularly so when workers have had to transition abruptly. Leave time before and after meetings for this, and dedicated remote social events.
Now that we've encouraged you to communicate more, remember what they say about too much of a good thing? That rule applies to the next tip.
Tip #3: The flip side: resist the urge to over-communicate
Many well-meaning managers go overboard trying to keep employees connected with emails, IMs, and conference calls. This can lead to a sense of micromanagement, lack of trust, and struggle to maintain work-life balance. This spells trouble, in the form of lower morale and higher attrition. Even more alarming, it can also mean lower productivity and lost revenue. According to Business Insider, fully one-third of the 11 million daily meetings in the U.S. are not productive.
Quick tips for leading more productive and effective meetings:
Set an agenda and limit it to 2-3 items. Share the agenda at least 24 hours in advance so attendees can come prepared.
Limit the invitees. Consider the agenda. Who are the decision-makers that will be essential to include?
Start on time and end on time.
When hosting virtual meetings, use video and screen share when possible. These features help foster interaction and keep attendees focused.
Institute a no cell phone rule.
If possible, reduce meeting durations by 5-10 minutes to give participants time to debrief, organise their notes, and take a breath before subsequent meetings.
Do you even need that meeting? Status updates are better suited for asynchronous communication. Save meetings for collaboration and decision-making.
Take clear, concise notes! As the meeting organiser, send out a summary and include action items, next steps, and deadlines.
Bringing it all together
Imagine leading a more productive, efficient, organised, and happier team. How might your customers benefit from higher employee engagement and better internal communication? How might your business benefit from smarter communication, higher employee morale, and less turnover? The impact could be tremendous, and with a clear strategy and strong tactics in place to bring your virtual team together, it’s all possible.
Now imagine having all the tools and technology you needed to make it all just a little bit easier. How much time could you save? How many employee pain points could you solve? What if you could save money by bringing all your tools together?
Vyanta is your Collaboration Partner, taking your business through this journey to ensure the tools you adopt align with your business strategy and help foster good BAU practices.
Get in touch now for a chat, free trials and more.