After the 2020 pandemic, we learned that remote work can be achieved for many businesses and industries that typically rely on an in-person workforce. A physical office is not a necessity for many companies, and going remote can have many benefits. Overall, we are still in a time of great transition, as some businesses are moving back to physical office workflows, while others are deciding to transition to online work permanently. It is a time to restructure systems and find new ways to make work, work. But transitions aren’t easy. Here are some essential tips to make transitioning to remote work easier for all employees and help keep everyone on track during changing times:
1. Build Trust
For remote work to be most effective, there must be trust among the whole team. With the added physical distance, employees have more independence and self-agency. For remote cooperation to work, management and leaders need to trust their employees and vice versa, so building strong relationships that foster this trust is important.
Team leadership strategies should focus on creating comfortable environments that motivate employees to do their best work efficiently. This way, leaders can focus on big picture management instead of checking the work of other employees and micromanaging their workflow. Leadership should offer employees autonomy, promote transparency and strong communication, and hold all parties accountable.
2. Provide the Necessary Tools
Online problems require online solutions. When it comes to creating a remote team of workers that prioritize communication and cooperation, it’s essential to use online tools that accommodate the group’s needs and implement the same systems across the board. This can be tricky, because there are infinitely many online productivity tools, so just find ones that work well and stick with them. Changing systems excessively or too often can cause unnecessary stress and confusion for employees and will slow down everyone. It’s also recommended to use different software for different tasks rather than trying to find a jack-of-all-trades application. Workers will need:
- A dedicated virtual meeting software like Zoom or Skype for video calls
- A communication hub where all messaging can take place in organized chats. Many companies use Slack, Flock, or even Discord to keep employees connected.
- A project management software like Asana that organizes tasks and projects among many workers, offering all the necessary features like status bars and due dates so all employees can stay on track and in the know.
In addition to implementing team-wide systems, it’s important, and often overlooked, to offer personal software suggestions to all employees. We often focus on the team as a whole when transitioning to online work, but each individual employee is making their own personal transition as well, so the best thing a business can do is help make sure every single worker is getting in the groove in their own environments. Go beyond the mandatory tools that the team will rely on and offer lists of preferred or suggested personal tools for employees to use for their own time management and organization. Suggest tools such as:
- A calendar or task manager like Google Calendar so employees can be reminded of events, meetings, and due dates.
- A brainstorming app like Braincat so workers can hash out ideas in creative ways, with or without colleagues.
- A distraction limiter, or software designed to boost focus and attention, like marinara timer. These apps will do things like create a blank workspace on your computer or limit notifications and computing abilities to help maintain your focus on a certain task.
3. Communication is Key
Although maintaining strong communication is part of building team trust, this tip is so important that it needs to be hammered home. It’s absolutely essential to mandate and encourage thorough communication throughout the entire employee hierarchy. It not only makes workflow smooth but also prevents employees from feeling detached in their remote work environment. The biggest drawback of remote work is the lack of closeness to fellow colleagues, so prioritizing strong communication systems helps to avoid drops in morale and productivity caused by the distance.
Set expectations for timely responses, such as no more than 48 hours, to set the tone of connectivity and hold employees accountable. During the transition period, upper management should take the time to observe the general workflow first-hand and make sure that everyone is connected and on the same page. At this time, it’s okay to focus on small problems and work out the little kinks of remote work because it’s more important to hit the ground running than to have complications to work out later and employees lagging behind. Take feedback and suggestions from all employees to see if there are ways to improve the workflow or accommodate more workers. And above all, make sure everyone feels comfortable and has the tools they need to be successful.
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