You'd be hard-pressed to find a business that hasn’t dipped their toes into remote working. Before the current issues, most companies already had some form of remote working capability, with staff occasionally taking the opportunity to work from home when ‘life gets in the way’ – such as illness, family issues – you know the drill.
However, apart from some forward-thinking companies that started with a remote workforce model, this has never been tested for all staff, all of the time. The result of this is that you have got thousands of business owners and managers who are in a completely unprecedented position. They are trying to lead a workforce remotely, and they don’t know where they should start and what works well. Here’s our top five tips:
1. Check in, don’t harangue: As tempting as it is to keep checking in with people to make sure they are working hard and not watching Netflix , you have to accept this is the new normal and trust your staff. Rather than bombarding them with messages it’s much better to schedule in weekly or bi-weekly one on ones with team members to check where they are with their goals, development and how you can help them overcome any challenges.
2. Keep collaborating: Even though you are not physically together, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep working together. Whether it’s project software, like Asana, or a collaborative platform, like Microsoft Teams, which enables you to share and edit documents, it’s crucial to have the right systems in place so that staff can still seamlessly work as a team.
3. Set expectations: Remote working requires clarity from both sides. This can be easily achieved with having simple guidelines. Everyone need to know to update their diary with calls/meetings and block out times when they aren’t available. Deadlines need to be clearly explained and expectations set for milestones.
4. Video is key: It’s easy to have misunderstanding over an email as it has no tone or intonation. If you aren’t happy keep it off email – pick up the phone or, even better, set up a video call. Having that human element of seeing each other’s faces makes a huge difference and means you can much more easily resolve issues, without creating additional conflict.
5. Consider virtual engagement: Whether you start running virtual coffee breaks, shared playlists or evening quizzes, it’s important to remember that we need to stay engaged on a personal level. Make sure you appoint a ‘virtual team-building’ workforce and that a member of the leadership attends all of the events.