In just a matter of days, many companies were finding the need to immediately implement a remote work force as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. You may have found yourself floundering, wondering how you would be able to successfully put a plan into action, while your team on the front lines was questioning how and if they would be able to make the shift.
Working remotely isn’t something new. In fact, recent statistics site that 25-35 million work from home at least one day a week. But the current state of affairs is causing organizations to require more individuals to work from home, regardless if they had existing protocols in place or not.
While the task at hand may seem daunting, it can be done. You can create a highly engaged, enthusiastic, and well-functioning team keeping in mind the following:
Right now, we’re all following the guidance of government and city officials about social distancing, proper hygiene and what we can and cannot do. The last thing your employees need right now is micromanagement. Constantly checking on them to make sure they are “actually working” will quickly erode trust and your working relationship.
Clearly define your expectations
Just as you do inside an office, it’s more imperative now to clearly set your expectations by defining and maintaining your standards of productivity. For example, a common company-wide policy is to require emails to be answered on the same business day that they are received. For job specific standards, its important to clearly spell how what you expect. For instance, how many documents need to be processed per day? What’s the quota for sales outreach? Be sure to document and analyze each other’s employee’s performance trends and let them know how they are doing from time to time.
Leverage the many real-time, cost-effective communication tools available today to collaborate and communicate with your team. Tools like Slack, DropBox, MicroSoft Teams, and Skype are readily available and easy to use with virtually little cost to you. Regardless of location, technology can keep you in touch and keep progress humming, even if you aren’t all in the same physical office.
All of us are making sacrifices right now and are being forced to change our daily living habits. Schools are closed, which means kids are home and this may pose a significant challenge for some of your team members. Your employees are having to juggle more than they usually do. Don’t enforce a rigorous 8 to 5 work schedule. As long as deadlines are being met and the work is getting done, allow for some flexibility.
Establish communication protocols
When employees work onsite, team interaction happens naturally. However, without the containment of a single office building, it’s nearly impossible to predict the communication habits of every person on your team. Make a point to designate some time specifically for team communication. For example, you might schedule a daily team meeting via video conference each morning. Or, at a minimum, every team member should send out a weekly email containing a list of current projects and any blockers they might be facing.
Ask team members to share tips
Experienced team members, both in-office and remote employees, usually have a few tricks of the trade to share. Ask team members to pool their proven practices together to share with the team. This can help new (and not-so-new) team members figure out the best ways to set up their workspace, software and devices. If you have an in-house efficiency expert, have them advise team members on organization strategies and streamlining their processes.
Know your team members
Now more than ever, knowing what makes your team members tick is important. Maybe you recently hired some new folks and didn’t get a chance to really know them. A workplace behavioral assessment can provide you with a wealth of information about what drives your employees, their needs, and work style. These types of insights are so critical as we navigate these uncertain times.
The COVID-19 outbreak was not something we anticipated and is extremely unfortunate. However, it gives you the opportunity to set up remote teams now, which is something that may prove to be advantageous after we’ve emerged from this crisis for the future of work.
Lisa Kinsey is the co-founder and chief talent strategist for Kinsey Management, a Houston-based talent optimization firm and a Predictive Index Certified Partner. For more information, visit https://kinseymgmt.com/.