Are you considering a remote plan for your team? Are you aiming for a healthy blend of collaboration and productivity? If you answered YES to either one, welcome to The Year—and possibly the decade—of Remote Work.
In recent weeks, many of our clients are sharing their best practices that make for happy, productive teams. So we though, “Let’s share this!”
You’ll find a wide variety of information distilled from broad perspectives to on-the-ground tips that make a difference. While some leaders have a strong ability to create guidance systems designed to beat challenges and achieve goals within ambiguous circumstances—it isn’t every leader’s superpower. If you feel overwhelmed or doubtful about how you stack up, don’t worry. We think these guidelines might just ease some of your thorniest productivity challenges.
First: Focused or Collaborative?
Each person’s work duties typically fall into two main categories: Focused (concentrated) work, and collaborative. Focused work is best conducted alone and without interruptions. Collaborative work—such as meetings or group projects—has historically been best tackled in the office, with other team members present. However, Covid-19 has changed all that.
Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Blue Jeans and other video conferencing tools have—in a few short months—replaced in-office conversations. Skype and WhatsApp lend themselves beautifully to international team meetings. Group texts ace the space for quick questions. Slack—for conversations or visual feedback has become the de facto communication tool of 2020.
From Telecommuting to Telecommunity: 10 Best WFH Practices
1.Get together. Video-based office time has increased exponentially. Leverage it to collectively decide what types of events and activities will build a sense of cohesion and community. Consider creating a regular social event every few weeks. This can help bridge gaps by building trust and intimacy typically conveyed by eye contact, body language and other nonverbal social cues during in-person contact.
2. Co-create. Ideally, a WFH policy should be developed by the entire team. To set the tone and foster confidence before a new WFH program begins, managers have found that optimal engagement is achieved when 1-on-1 dialogue upshots with team members are shared during video-conferencing. Also asking team members to discuss and achieve consensus on solutions to ongoing questions can help the team become more invested in making your WFH initiative a success.
While specific answers will differ for each organization, managers should be prepared for questions such as:
3. WFH is teamwork. Treat working from home as a team activity rather than an individual one, whenever possible. Develop a team schedule, and a WFH system that is consistent with the needs of your department and organization.
4. Maintain a virtual presence. Team members should make themselves available during work hours via phone, text, email, Slack or other company-approved technologies. Transparent communication tools like shared calendars or project management apps are useful for managers and other team members to assess workloads and see what others are working on.
5. Client / customer service. If your team members interact with clients or customers, be sure that service-level support requirements when communicating with clients are clearly defined. All team members need to agree to meet the same service levels to ensure transparency for the customer. Commit with each other to an acceptable response period for email inquiries or phone calls.
6. IT support. A common reason for WFH dissatisfaction is IT failure. WFH programs are dependent on fast, reliable, consistent connections. Work with your IT group to ensure the technology your teams uses is effective, efficient, operates consistently and provides excellent customer service. IT department involvement and support is critical to your success.
7. Trust. In talking with team members on the phone, avoid comments like, “Hey, I hear a TV. Are you watching TV, or working?” Instead, use it as an opportunity to foster trust between employees and management. Established daily check-ins can be useful, but rigid micro-monitoring of daily activities hinders productivity and creates an environment of distrust.
8. Manage by results. For managers used to passing offices where employees can be seen working, WFH can be disconcerting. However, apparent worker activity should not be confused with the results those activities produce. Establish a clear definition of objectives and performance indicators, then track those indicators.
9. Monitor performance measures. One measure might be team sick days and absenteeism—have they decreased as your WFH program progresses? Customer satisfaction might be another measure —has the needle moved in any direction since some team members started WFH?
10. Keep evolving. Look at your WFH program as a continual work in progress. Teams are unlikely to get all arrangements right the first time. Evolving work groups and projects may also force changes in the original arrangements, regardless of how successful they may have been. Remain flexible, evaluate frequently, and adjust the arrangements as needed.
WFH as a Strategic (and Cost-Saving) Initiative
The potential value of a well-managed WFH program becomes clear when contextualized in the broader state of the current workplace. WHF options actually serve to boost an organization’s employee retention efforts. Gallup and Buffer.com have consistently found that flexible scheduling coupled with stable WFH programs play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job. As CEO, Todd McKinnon discovered, “I was pretty wrong about this. I thought productivity was going to plunge, but it has been very good.”
We hope this article has been useful and informative. As your teams grow, we welcome the opportunity to provide you with exceptional hires.
written by Catrina Walker
Enjoy more of your summer—take sensible precautions to stay healthy and safe. Click here for the latest updates on COVID-19