Ideas that will change the way your remote team will work
Starting a remote working initiative is like learning to do business from scratch. Your employees haven’t changed, but the way they interact will be transformed. Just as a new team member can change the dynamic between everyone, new ways of working can be a huge boost to productivity.
While most staff embrace the chance to work flexibly, others will find it harder to adapt. If you need to ease the transition, here are some key areas to work on.
At work, we give off a lot of clues via non-verbal communication. If someone’s having a bad day, or struggling to get to grips with a problem, everyone will be aware of the issue without it being explicitly discussed. When working remotely, it’s much more difficult to understand how people are feeling, and that means focused communication comes to the fore.
It’s best to keep it simple: use one or two methods of communication (such as phone and a team collaboration site), rather than scattering messages all over the place. Let people talk informally; live chat is a good way for a remote team to keep in touch.
Also, make sure that team members put everything in writing for their own sanity. It may sound tedious, but following up live chats with a quick email keeps everyone informed. With our business phone system, you can record phone calls on demand, or have all calls recorded automatically; this can act as a useful back-up if any problems arise.
Use tools effectively
Most teams use some kind of online project management tool. There are dozens of options to choose from. At the stripped-down end of the scale, Trello puts tasks into cards and lets you develop structured project plans. Tools like Basecamp and Teamwork are more comprehensive, branching out into Gantt charts, chat and more.
Use these tools to boost performance, keep people organised, and automate workflows. Automated email reminders keep remote workers focused, and task deadlines help to motivate each person. If you get this right, your project site can act as a hub for every team activity, making it much easier for managers to dip in and check progress.
Watch out for distractions
Remote working can be just as productive as office time, providing distractions are contained and controlled. Working from home lets people get the chores done, but chores shouldn’t interfere with project progress.
If someone is struggling with self control, figure out an action plan together. There are apps that will block internet access, or restrict sites like Facebook during work time. When productivity drops and distractions dominate, logging the amount of time spent working can be a handy wake-up call.
If you’ve transitioned from office-based working to a flexible, remote approach, let us know your top tips for managing a remote team.