Remote work used to be a sign of a good work culture in blossoming startups and enterprises; has now become a necessity in light of the recent Corona virus pandemic.
You may be pondering about how this is going to affect your teams productivity in the coming days. Is it going to be hard to manage everyone and keep everything stable?
Let me begin by telling you that not only can it be done, but it can be done pretty darn well. According to a study done by Owl Labs, 40% of remote workers are putting in more than 40 hours per week because they enjoy their work compared to the measly 17% of on-site workers. Sounds too good to be true right? There's more!
You know GitLab? They are quite big and successful right?
Well they have the largest remote workforce in the world with more than a 1000 people spread across 60 plus countries. Quite an achievement huh? GitLab is not the only one, companies like Zapier, WordPress and InVision also rely on a completely remote workforce. So now that we have given you proof that remote work can be successfully implemented. Let's take a look at how you can do the same.
Communication is key
Try to keep in touch with your employees and co-workers as much as possible. Let them know what your goals and expectations are. Make sure they have everything they need and make it crystal clear that you are there to support them. Establish your goals and expectations on a regular basis. This should be done every week or day depending upon your project goals.
Another important aspect of good communication is to let your people know that they are important. Regular interactions with the team will go a long way in boosting morale and overall productivity. So don't be shy to send out some messages of appreciation or even some memes and GIFs.
Also, make sure to use multiple channels of communication like instant messaging, phone calls, video conferences, etc.
Hold regular formal and informal team meetings. Meetings should not solely be about setting expectations and goals. Have informal meetings to loosen up and create a fun vibe. Try to get everyone involved in these meetings. Make them feel included and help them feel safe to share and contribute to the team. This will really boost their morale and bring their A game.
P.S. We use Discord as our main communication channel. It's really fun and you can easily find GIFs by typing in "/tenor" in the chat box. Go ahead try it now, its awesome. Feel free to drop in on our community channel Nullcast and say hi.
Focus on the outcomes
We all know a sudden shift in the work environment is not ideal. Your team may be used to working synchronously with each other; exchanging ideas, clearing doubts, among other things. Since that's not the case anymore, you'll need to let go of the usual expectations you have from everyone.
You have to let your people take the drivers seat and let them take responsibility of their work. You need to provide them with the flexibility to accomplish tasks on their terms. You need to focus on the results.
Don't expect your employees to work the usual 9-5. That's never going to happen. We all know why, don't we? There's just too much going on when you are at home. The baby's crying, the doorbell rings a hundred times, connectivity issues, to name but a few.
So how do you go around this? Simple, set goals for each day or week and let them accomplish those on their terms. Make this a comfortable as possible for them.
Even though the current situation is somewhat unprecedented and most of the time working from home is seen in a positive light. It is hard to adjust to this sudden change to remote work. You can slowly start to feel lonely and disconnected. We humans need to interact with people and socialize.
The uncertainty of the situation raises fear and concerns within your team. You need to show empathy towards your team. Talk to your employees one on one, ask them how they are adapting to these changes, find out what is stressing them out. Try to find solutions for their concerns, show them that you care for their well-being.
Don't miss a chance to appreciate your employees on a job well done. This can have a huge emotional impact on them. They will feel more positive and happy towards their work and it makes them feel valued.
Yes, we can talk about all the communication and project management tools you can use to stay in touch with your team. But lets be realistic, we have more than enough tools at our disposal for those sort of things. At the end of the day the success of your remote team is down to the people themselves. Our focus should be on them.
The biggest takeaway from this is that its quite possible to manage a remote team successfully. Good leaders are able to produce positive outcomes in any situation you throw at them. By putting in that extra bit of effort and leading from the front you can ensure that your team stays productive and your clients stay happy.