The following post comes to us from Keith Coppersmith, an experienced business consultant who serves small businesses and startups. Learn more about Keith in his bio following this article.
Remote work is far from a new concept, especially in the era of digital nomads and digitally-dominant companies that work with people from all over the globe. For them, this is just another day at the “office”. Alas, none of our nomadic desires can be fulfilled today, and distancing is becoming the new business policy to keep people safe and healthy. In light of recent events, and by that we mean the coronavirus pandemic, more companies are resorting to remote work in order to salvage their economic standing and the communities in which people depend on these jobs and their services.
Apart from jobs that require direct communication and contact with people, which is the case with healthcare workers, sanitation, the police, and the like, businesses are trying to contribute to reducing this crisis by sending their workers home. The transition, however, can be bumpy to say the least, hence the need to help your teams adjust without wreaking havoc on your schedules and workload. Here are a few tips to help you go through this rapid change as efficiently as possible!
Schedule regular stakeholder meetings
Just like your Monday mornings were riddled with staff meetings, you should talk to your employees and determine the best time of week and day for a video conference call. To avoid chaos in those meetings, make sure that you select specific talking points to cover during each meeting and then schedule a follow-up email for everyone.
Regular meetings and team communication help enhance employee engagement and it allows your teams to connect on important issues to stay on the right track with their work. Such an approach helps your remote teams stay productive, which is the end goal for your business and your clients, too. Of course, avoid wasting everyone’s time with unneeded content, so keep those calls brief and effective so that everyone can stay true to their work hours while at home.
Keep distractions and security issues at bay
There are a few key issues with remote work that most employers fail to prepare for properly, including that of secure communication, file sharing, and above all, preventing employee distractions. There’s only so much you can do to affect their new work environment, but since they will work in the digital realm, you can use a secure web gateway for all of your interactions to reduce distractions and unwanted website visits.
Your employees might be tempted to visit their social media profiles and constantly check on coronavirus updates, which may in turn cause added stress and reduce their focus. Having a better grasp of their online behavior allows you to limit distractions, prevent security breaches, and make sure that your employees don’t get exposed to more stress during their work hours.
Remote team-building is possible
No matter how long you’ve been in the game, chances are that you’ve already set up your fair share of team-building exercises with the aim to boost employee satisfaction and to motivate them to stay loyal to your business. You’re probably wondering how you’ll do that now that this dire situation affects all of our mindsets and how you can inspire your employees to stay close and support one another.
Luckily, you can actually get creative with team building and schedule a few sessions for bonding with your employees. You can simply set aside an afternoon to share a cup of coffee (or tea) together over Skype, set up online game tournaments, or schedule a storytelling workshop to put your minds at ease for a bit. If possible, you should offer remote counseling sessions to your teams, to help them cope with the situation and stay healthy both emotionally and mentally during this time.
Set specific goals
For teams that are used to working together in a single office, it may take time to find their rhythm while they work remotely. Simply put, they might be accustomed to brainstorming on the go, visiting their team’s desk to exchange ideas, and they could work together on the project during specific time slots. Now, you can try to mimic that same collaboration pattern by defining daily milestones, weekly workload, and other, more long-term goals.
This may seem like a simple task, but you’ll find it difficult to define when there are many people involved on a single project. So, give yourself the time and flexibility to adjust in the first several weeks. Your team will quickly figure out the most effective schedule for them and the best way to move forward with their tasks. A clear agenda is the best possible way to help them stay on track when they’re working remotely.
This global health crisis has affected us all, and we have yet to see how it will impact the economy down the line. So far, we can do our best to mitigate the struggle by keeping our employees and our businesses safe, and establishing remote work conditions is a great start of that practice. Use these tips to let your business survive this crisis and to support your employees in every possible way. It seems that right now, the best way for us to stand by one another is to stay away.
About the Author: Keith Coppersmith is an Adelaide based business consultant with a degree in Media Management. With experience in numerous small businesses and startups, he enjoys giving advice on all things marketing.