Remote work has been steadily increasing around the world. In the past few weeks, it has exploded. Entire companies are 100% work from home. For some businesses, remote work is a common occurrence, but others may just be getting started.
Regardless of where your company is on the remote work spectrum, we are about to embark on what may be the greatest remote work experiment in our lifetime. This will inevitably lead to a shift toward even more people working from home more often across all industries. Supporting remote workers is imperative to the survival of your business now and for long-term success.
These new demands require detailed, proven strategies to keep your remote workforce connected, supported, and efficient. The following tips will help you keep your team engaged and productive.
Support Your Remote Workers
1. Use Time Tracking - Timesheets can help managers better understand shifts in team efficiency and the insights gained will be helpful in understanding what can be done to support resources in times of change. In addition, these time insights can help a now-remote workforce return to better utilization rates that may have been affected by the move.
2. Solidify Team Structure - Every team member has, or should have, clearly defined responsibilities and goals, but a sudden shift into remote work could disrupt these responsibilities. Make sure each resource knows his or her role in ongoing and upcoming projects to keep the team focused on their roles each day.
3. Use Online Video Calls - Remote work means that literal face-to-face interaction is no longer possible, but thanks to teleconferencing, distributed teams can still see and talk to each other live. Being able to see each other adds a level of connection and trust not possible with voice only calls or chat. Implement a “cameras on” policy.
4. Schedule Regular Check-Ins - Hold regular team meetings and check in with your individual team members at least once a week to keep professional relationships intact. Encourage meetings that go beyond business updates and touch base with your teams on a personal level to strengthen your management strategies and support both the worker and their work.
5. Create New Norms - Everyone has a daily work routine. Going to get coffee, chatting with a work friend, taking breaks at specific intervals, these are the everyday parts of work that naturally establish themselves, but can be interrupted with the change to working from home. Help team members create new routines for a healthier home environment.
6. Encourage a Regular Schedule - Keeping your team on a schedule that would be appropriate for in-office work will help them maintain a healthy work-life balance, as well as keep project timelines on track. This will be key for preventing team members from slowly losing sync with each other during everyday work.
7. Help Projects Flow With Gantt Charts - Gantt charts not only create a definitive list of tasks that make up a project, but also stack these in cascading order to keep work moving forward. Within these projects, tasks will be assigned to their appropriate resource, given a timeline for how long each should take to be completed, and will alert resources when tasks should start.
8. Over-communicate on Strategy and Needs - It’s easy to lose track of project progress and needs when you aren’t around the rest of your team. Make sure to over-communicate about these needs through regular project discussions and alerts in project management solutions for helpful reminders.
9. Don’t Overload Teams with Chat and Email - On the opposite end, being completely remote may lead to managers sending out far too many chats and emails to their team, leading to a sense of being overwhelmed and creating unnecessary distractions that set back work progress. Find a healthy cadence and stick to it.
10. Keep Socializing Fun - There is more to daily communication than simply discussing work needs and project updates. Schedule online hangouts that are solely focused on helping team members catch up with each other. Consider online lunches, happy hours, and group chats.
11. Use Collaborative Online Documents - Simple documents and spreadsheets can be edited and collaborated on simultaneously by multiple team members through Google Docs while strong online resource management solutions create collaborative tools with live updates to keep every team member informed and involved.
12. Track Project Performance - Dispersed team members need a metric that can guide them in their work and being able to easily track and understand project performance will help consolidate and inform what each resource should be working on. As teams collaborate to push a project forward, they can move past the limitations caused by working remotely.
13. Give Team Members Tools They Need - A sudden shift from working in the office to remote work may lead to a delay in team members realizing what tools they do not have readily available to them. Managers should check in with their remote workers and ask what has become more difficult to them since moving to remote work. Identify these needs and work to support them through software solutions and hardware when necessary.
Support Your Remote Workers
Remote work is a critical part of both business today and the future of businesses, but organizations need to both learn what their teams need and how to best evolve their processes to support them. Learn more in our ebook, “The Rise of the Remote Worker in the Digital Age.”