As the new workplace is evolving, we’re keeping our eyes open for best practices that underpin success. Here’s some ideas that are moving mountains.
It can be difficult to understand the unique benefits and challenges of working remotely unless you’ve experienced them yourself. This is when you’ll discover the specific productivity hacks that make your own day sing. A run after dropping the kids at school, when you’d normally be commuting, can fire up your creative brain. You’ll also learn what it’s like to be disconnected from the hallway chatter, and you’ll be more sensitive to finding solutions for your remote team.
Introducing remote working to your team is going to bring a mix of enthusiasm and nerves. Everyone wants it to work and everyone’s afraid it might not. Instead of opening the doors and just hoping for the best, build guardrails into the process so expectations are clear. Create a simple WFH guide that outlines some basic group rules around availability for chat or spontaneous call, the “golden hour” when everyone is expected to be available, and workspace recommendations.
Motivating your remote team can be a struggle because you can’t casually check in on the status of projects in the hallway. Establishing daily reporting, where each of our employees sends in their “here’s what I did today” list, can be a powerful motivator. Depending on the kind of work you do, it might be useful to share “did lists” among team members so everyone knows the project status.
We send friends and family pics or our day without thinking twice, and we do it because it helps us feel closer to them. To combat the feeling of isolation and disconnectedness that remote teams feel, establish a habit of the “daily snap” – a selfie posted on a common digital channel or board so everyone can get a “right now” hit of their coworkers. This takes seconds but helps establish connections that matter over the long term.
Much of the culture in a company is built around time outside the conference room – at offsite retreats, during travel, or after work on softball diamond. Your remote teams can be part of remote culture if you build some infrastructure and support for it. Set up groups for gamers, book readers, movie watchers, food lovers, and marathon runners. Give them a channel or site for connecting and ask for group updates for the company newsletter.
Communication isn’t just language – it’s also body language. Aim to schedule at least one video conference call each week so you can set eyes on your staff. Reading beyond their voice can give you immediate clues to the reality of how the remote work arrangement is going.
It turns out that the most innovative employees split their time between remote and in-office work. If you’ve got some employees who are always in, set up an “all out” day that encourages them to work from a museum, a café, or tree fort. If you’re considering a remote team, set up an “all in” day that puts everyone in the same place – in the office or at an offsite. All out days support creativity. All in days support team building. It’s all good.
To identify what’s working with your remote team and what isn’t, you’ll need a standard for success. Hard metrics like meeting deadlines, quality of deliverables, and feedback from customers or clients are important. So are the soft metrics like engagement, satisfaction, and contribution to culture. Consider creating a simple questionnaire, issued quarterly or biannually, to track the change in sentiment over time.
Remote workers live and die by the fluid functionality of their devices and technology. Collaboration on documents can either be a raging frustration or a delightful joy. Conference call interfaces can aggravate or illuminate. The devices and technology you deploy for your remote team will be key in eliminating challenges and supporting creativity, collaboration, productivity, and security. Modern work requires modern devices and technology.
In a Harvard Business Review Pulse Survey, 58 percent of employers agreed or strongly agreed that candidates consider the technology/devices provided by potential employers when deciding where to work. And according to a commissioned Forrester Consulting study, three out of four managers agreed that Microsoft 365-powered Surface devices improved employee satisfaction and retention.