How to make remote work 'work' for your team
written by Elena Kostova
This is a guest post by Milena Gallo.
As the digital age continues, more and more businesses are shifting some of their workforce to remote positions. This trend has emerged because of tools like chat and team collaboration platforms. Now that video conferencing is advancing and technology is progressing daily, the probability of some of your workforce asking for remote work will increase.
Before you decide to make some positions in your staff remote, consider why you would make this move in the first place. Many metropolitan areas are extremely pricey to live in, and traffic will only get harder to navigate as the population increases. These concepts might sound like non-issues, but travel can be difficult for some people in both physical and emotional ways, and adding extra stress to an already hectic work environment is never a good thing.
Once you decide to offer remote positions, you would need to figure out which is the most effective way to do so. There are many issues, such as communication and time zone differences, that need to be resolved. Luckily, there is already plenty of research on the topic, and I have selected 5 tips that may help you with that.
Effective communication is the key to work remotely with your teammates. When working in a remote team, most of the communication happens digitally, through video calls or collaboration platforms. Therefore, it is important that correspondence is direct and conveys a clear message. Sometimes, communication can become disjointed, but there are ways to avoid that.
Most staff are trained by watching how others behave. You can accelerate this natural training with a style guide – a set of standards for writing and communication between colleagues. Keeping a style guide is an effective way to train these essential skills, streamline communication, and make messages easier to understand for your staff.
Keep messages short. In communications where how you get your point across is key, brevity can often be the best choice for presenting a concise point.
Offer training and seminars
Relying solely on impersonal communication can be challenging both for the managers and their team. Therefore, offering training may help in resolving issues faster and will improve overall team communication. Negotiation training seminars or conflict resolution workshops may be a good investment for your company. The Negotiation Experts state that they result in a 10-fold payback within the first year.
If you want to increase the effectiveness of such training, you need to be careful about how you communicate it. Instead of notifying your team that these courses are mandatory to everyone, offer them as a reward for their good work. This would make them feel appreciated, and they will be motivated to advance their skills.
Creating personal relationships with your employees is essential in most businesses, but it has even greater importance when working remotely. If you are just a faceless blurb of text delegating orders through chat, it is less likely that your message would come through. If your employees feel like you are not investing time in them, this will show in their work.
As I already mentioned, training your staff can make them more effective when they work remotely. Giving a personal touch to a seminar, such as making a personalized video, is a thoughtful way to simultaneously improve remote workers’ skills while also strengthening your relationship with them. Combing collaboration with training is an effective way to make your employee feel happy, valued, and in possession of up-to-date company skills.
Personalize emails, make notes for birthdays, send holiday greetings—such gestures show your employees that you care. Building a relationship with your team will improve your communication with them and will help work run smoothly.
The shift in the work culture shaped by technological advancement makes it easier for jobs to be done remotely. Working from home in itself is an incentive because it allows you to work at your own pace and with your own schedule. It also creates a relaxed atmosphere because you are in the comfort of your own home. This is a huge motivation for those with the self-discipline to set the boundaries between comfortable work and just chilling in front of the TV.
The debate is still out on whether working remotely increases business productivity or not, as this Wall Street Journal piece states. Yet a recent study found that employees value time and comfort over money. Therefore, this poses the idea that if workers are comfortable—or incentivized in terms of having the privilege to work on their own time, they would be much more effective in their work.
The alignment of a team is very essential when working remotely. Sometimes, however, the team members can be out of touch with each other, which can disrupt the workflow of the company. Therefore, it is important to keep everyone on the same page.
How to achieve it?
You can make sure that everyone is aligned by checking in regularly with the rest of the team. Regular check-ins ensure you always know which managers are communicating to which employees.
Holding regular video meetings can help to maintain cohesion between managers, workers, and remote staff. Meeting virtually as a team restores some normalcy of structure to an otherwise new working arrangement. It boosts team morale, and it creates a genuine platform for effective communication.
There are many variables to consider when trying to make your business remote, and budgeting is one of the more challenging skills of this endeavor.
Consider how many employees will be going remote and whether or not you will need to downsize your office space to accommodate those changes. You may need to outfit your existing office space with quality video conferencing equipment and a reliable high-speed internet connection at the minimum. Next, you would need to decide on the communication and scheduling platforms. Investing in a reliable team planning platform such as Swipes for Teams will help you avoid many issues when working remotely.
While all those tips are helpful, you should decide which deserve the most weight when considering whether or not to make positions remote in your business. Importantly, negotiating these aspects with your staff is key to creating mutually beneficial remote working relationships.
Your success depends on how you approach your transition to remote working. Embrace the challenge and potential that such work style brings, and make remote work ‘work’ for your team.