During the past several months, more companies have been forced to send their teams home and close their offices, either temporarily, or permanently. From the employee’s perspective, switching to remote work might not mean making too many changes in how they operate, but from the managerial perspective, leading a remote team takes a whole new set of skills and tools. Adapting to this new model requires a certain level of scalability and flexibility from your software tools and your teams alike.
You need tools that work inside and outside the office, that are intuitive and simple enough for your employees to use wherever they are, and for new staff to be able to master these tools with ease and with little assistance. On another note, you also need a stable infrastructure that can withstand such a major shift from office-based work to remote collaboration while retaining all layers of cybersecurity, productivity, and workflow.
However, the basis of successful remote collaboration lies in the culture you build and the foundation you set from day one. Here, we’ll list a number of crucial strategies and steps you should take to ensure successful remote work for your business and protect your operations in these stressful times.
Establish expectations and milestones for all
For most companies that have had to switch to remote work, most issues may arise from the sheer lack of managing expectations. Some things that have been easier to communicate at the office can get lost when you switch to remote work. To avoid issues of that nature, make sure that everyone in your business knows what their daily, weekly, and monthly assignments are, what deadlines they should respect, and what they can expect from you as their leader.
Make sure to invest in scheduling software that will give your entire organization a clear view of your workload and responsibilities, and it will keep everyone’s schedules in order.
Build a unified communications network
The main ingredient in the success of your remote teams is communication. With well-structured interactions and hierarchy, your business will have a much easier time adjusting to remote collaboration, without causing any damage to your productivity, on the contrary. For such purposes, most companies today are switching to voice over internet protocol tech, or VoIP, which allows you to set up cloud-based phone systems with multiple functionalities.
By opting for VoIP-based communications, your business can use a range of built-in features such as chat, local and international calls, email, fax, all the way to a mobile app that helps your teams work remotely. VoIP is a great solution for companies that need scalability and flexibility, and it also allows you greater control over your expenses, since it’s a cost-effective solution for the vast majority of your communication needs.
Rely on regular analytics and reporting
Most of the time, you’ll be able to discover issues and resolve them quickly because your employees can point them out, if your business is transparent. However, sometimes your employees might fail to spot an issue that’s wreaking havoc on their productivity, which is where unbiased data analytics steps in to save the day.
If you use the built-in analytics of the software you utilize every day, you can delve deeper into various productivity issues in your organization, and find optimal solutions for them. You’ll notice patterns if deadlines are missed and if some of your teams are having a hard time managing a specific client, or handling a specific tool. Productivity issues can lead to drains in your budget, so analytics will also help you cut your expenses and boost profitability. All of that can be handled with the right training and communication, but it begins with taking a close look at your data.
Create a consistent feedback loop
As a leader, you already know how your company works and what makes your employees tick. Since people evolve over time, and with specific circumstances in the mix such as the pandemic, you need to be open-minded and keep all lines of communication open. Transparency in remote teams is vital to ensure that everyone’s needs are met and that all employees have the support they need.
To ensure that, schedule regular feedback sessions with employees, and entice them to send their own suggestions, or offer ideas as to how your entire organization can run more smoothly while working remotely. Be open to criticism, too, because your leadership, or some aspects of it could be part of the problem – and there will always be problems to deal with and boost your remote productivity.
Enable remote team-building
This year has been tough for all of us, so all the more reason for businesses to invest in remote team building activities to help employees bond and connect. You can set up gaming nights, or simple virtual coffee get-togethers to chat with your teams and see what they’re up to.
Trivia nights, Pictionary, and similar games are easy to translate into the virtual realm, but you can adapt your strategy based on what your employees enjoy the most.
Focus on employee work-life balance
A successful business with remote teams cannot be built merely on hard work. You also need to respect your employees’ personal and private time, and you should in fact encourage them to pursue other goals. Their personal growth and balance in life will shape your business, too.
If possible, grant them flexible work hours so that they can take up a fitness activity. Encourage them to share when they’re too stressed, so that you can arrange for someone to help them or at the very least to talk to them. Offer them different health benefits and perks that will help them stay resilient during the pandemic, and beyond.
Bolster autonomy for your teams
From the moment you craft your hiring strategy to the moment you begin the onboarding process, you should, of course, empower collaboration and support in your teams. However, you should also aim to hire stellar employees that are able work autonomously, because you’ll reduce delays and setbacks for your remote team leaders and other employees.
Your onboarding can include a variety of training modules to help employees get used to their new digital environment, but once they start working, they should be able to work independently and collaborate with ease. By empowering your employees to embrace responsibility and be proactive with tasks and assignments, you’ll build a remote team with employees that can rely on one another.
Even though remote work will differ from one industry to another, your organization has a chance to thrive even in such circumstances with the right tools and tactics at hand. Try incorporating the listed mindset essentials and solutions, and you’ll provide your teams everything they need to work remotely with greater ease and little stress. The more you help everyone adjust and use your leadership to foster collaboration, the easier the entire process will be for you all.