With the Coronavirus outbreak, many companies are switching to remote work and are encouraging their employees to stay home. In today’s modern age, technology has enabled a vast amount of employees to work from anywhere. And yet, up until the crisis times digital nomadism has not been as nearly pervasive as it could have been.
The major challenges with managing a distant workforce include measuring the success of the remote team, engaging and motivating the top talent, efficient communication, and collaboration on tasks. At MGID, we have employees in 11 different offices in Europa, Asia, and the U.S. that are ready to share some of the hard-earned remote work best practices, communication tools that we use and productivity tips.
1. Give your teams time to adjust
One of the most popular misconceptions is that WFH is the same as onsite with the addition of a lot of video conferencing. That’s not true. Remote workflow management requires a completely different set of practices and approaches that solve for distance and time.
As a manager, you should take into account that the shift to WFH requires structural changes and can be followed by a feeling of disconnection and deterioration of the corporate culture. In many cases, this negative effect on the team’s morale can be offset by informal opportunities to sustain belonging cues. Encourage a sense of trust and belonging during online meetings, ask how your employees are feeling and what do they do on the weekend.
2. Craft regular communication routine
As your organization goes fully remote, you have to intentionally amend the communication processes. It is important to implement at least one stand-up event for your team members and make sure they interact by means of video-conferencing on a regular basis.
At MGID, we implemented three types of regular meetings: at the beginning and end of each week for sprint planning and recapture, and daily stand-up for managing tasks and team synchronization.
3. Set your working hours
By being a manager and planning project activities, you should understand the difference between disconnection of the team and reasonable isolation your employees need to focus on particular tasks and maximize productivity. To fight back a loss of connection, set expectations on working hours of your availability and insist that your employees should do the same. Don’t forget to take into account actual timezones and team availability when planning tasks and video conferences.
4. Plan and measure results
Be it Trello, Jira, YouTrack or any other project management system, it should be taken seriously within your organization and contain all important information about ongoing activities and tasks. To encourage a sense of belonging in your team, it can be recommended to plan all project activities collaboratively during the weekly stand-ups. Document team performance and write progress updates that can be used to look back on what’s happened.
5. Pick tech tools that fit your team and operational processes
Working online, efficient collaboration is impossible without proper tools and frame of mind shared by all employees. Clarify to your team how to use each tool and for which purposes, for example, you may want to manage email newsletters in one tool, social media and blog post updates in another, track project tasks and organize video conferences in other ones, etc. At MGID, we use Slack for ongoing communication during the day, Sneek for video conferences and YouTrack for managing tasks and activities.
6. Build a corporate culture
While adjusting regular planning and check-ups, you have to make sure that you are not being counter-productive and do not overload your team with management controls. Stay flexible and build the corporate culture of trust. In your messaging you can communicate and take regular breaks, but do not forget to set your availability status.
Moments of connection and team building is more important than ever during this pandemic outbreak. What should you do about it during the quarantine? Well, you can make up something creative, e.g. ordering lunch delivery for your employees and taking shared meals during video-conferences.
Working from home is a new corporate reality, and it is likely to stay even after the pandemic outbreak. Implement these simple practices and be prepared that changing corporate culture may require more time to bake WFH format into your company’s DNA. Consistently productive remote work is the practice and skill that improves over time for both, an organization and employees.