The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has sparked a whole host of concerns for the world of commerce, with the government’s legislation on self-isolation chief among them. How can companies be expected to maintain the same levels of productivity and achieve their business objectives when employees are now forced to work from the seclusion of their own homes?
In actual fact, it might surprise you to learn that there is substantial scientific evidence which demonstrates that productivity can increase when staff are working remotely. Enhanced flexibility and greater job satisfaction can return attractive benefits on individual employee performance, resulting in a knock-on effect on overall profit margins.
Of course, not all businesses are set up to accommodate this arrangement, but the ongoing global health crisis means that many must now adapt quickly. If you’re the manager of a team which suddenly finds itself having to work from home, these tips will help you navigate what can represent a challenging transition:
1. Host an official launch
If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to host an official remote-working launch to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Leverage a communication and collaboration tool such as Microsoft Teams to create a conference call where everyone can see and interact with each other. Use this opportunity to discuss how, when and how often you plan to stay in touch with each other to ensure that crossed wires and communication breakdowns do not occur.
It’s important at this juncture to listen to the thoughts, ideas and concerns of your team – and also to display leadership qualities by sanctioning final decisions. You can also use the launch to prioritise the tasks and objectives that are most crucial to the ongoing success of your company, then delegate these to the appropriate staff members.
2. Equip your employees
Once you’ve established which tools you plan to use to stay in contact and manage collaboration efforts, it’s essential to ensure that all employees are equipped with the technology necessary to fulfil their roles. This may include physical hardware such as office computers, tablets or headsets. If your employees are using their personal devices, ensure you have a robust cyber security policy in place to prevent any compromises in company security.
Software is most likely going to be your biggest aid in facilitating the creation and functioning of a virtual team. Fortunately, there are digital solutions geared towards handling all aspects of collaborative remote working today.
In addition to the Microsoft Team’s video conferencing capabilities above, there are things like G Suite and Office 365 which allow for independent editing of documents and time management apps like Toggl and Time Doctor which track how time is spent. Leveraging these tech solutions is key to maximising your workforce’s potential while offsite.
3. Analyse performance
As with any aspect of a business, you must conduct continuous monitoring to work out which facets are performing well and which require improvement. This is doubly true when managing a remote team, since you won’t have the visual access that an office environment entails. Stay on top of key metrics and communicate effectively with the whole team to keep productivity at an optimum level.
As well as assessing how the company as a whole is progressing, it’s also useful to keep an eye on individual behaviour. It’s only natural that some staff members will have a greater aptitude for remote working than others, so ensure you stay abreast of who is pulling their weight and who is falling behind. It could be as simple as a connectivity or software issue – or it might be a more serious symptom of struggling to balance the home and work dynamic.
4. Don’t forget the human element
If, indeed, some employees are finding it tough to maintain their usual standards of motivation and productivity, it’s beneficial to talk to them one-on-one to find out more about the problem. Perhaps the distractions of a crowded household are encroaching on their working routine, or maybe they’re finding the self-isolation lifestyle a little overwhelming. Lending an ear to their concerns can work wonders in helping team members feel valued and protecting employee mental health.
Remember – emails can be very impersonal and it’s difficult to add tone. Video chat is much more friendly and you can have a two-way dialogue.
5. Casual catch ups
It’s a good idea to incorporate a human element into interactions with all of the team. What may hit people hard is the absence of the casual moments at work – the water-cooler conversations, the after-hours drinks.
At Aura, for example, we’ve introduced Coffee Catch Ups on Tuesdays at 10am and Thirsty Thursday sessions at 4pm. This allows our team to chat, vent and unwind. You can even introduce members of your family. This kind of relaxed interaction on an informal footing can be key to effective team management, so bringing in a similar initiative at your company might be a beneficial strategy.
Need help with your remote team?
As a global, multi-vendor service provider, Aura can help you design, deploy and support the right IT and communication technology for your business.
Our remote working setup means there is no compromise on our service throughout the coronavirus pandemic, so you can expect a fast response to any queries you might have. Get in touch today to see how we can empower your business with the tools to work remotely, together.