The pandemic caused unprecedented changes in business, including serious organizational transformation due to the switching of billions of people to remote work. How not to lose human capital in a crisis, how to improve your workflow’s efficiency, how to manage a team remotely, and what business tools to use will be discussed in our article.
Managing a remote team has the same basic principles as managing any team. At the same time, it establishes new requirements for the interaction between colleagues, the methods and nature of communication, decision-making, setting and performing tasks, organizing the workplace, and working hours.
Here are some tips for managers who are organizing their teamwork remotely today.
Organize your digital workspace
If you have not yet switched to corporate messengers MS Teams or Slack, then now you have to do it. E-mail is not efficient enough, does not have public channels, functions of “mention”, “emoji-reactions” and, for many other reasons, cannot be a substitute for prompt live communication. Use the best team communication tools.
Application of the video conferencing services that support open video rooms, such as Zoom, will be very useful. Create virtual zoom-in meeting rooms, where anyone can enter and start communication within the company by voice, just like in a messenger channel. Create a virtual zoom kitchen coffee shop where employees can connect during a coffee or snack break. There, you can chat during the working day with remote colleagues who also wanted to have a snack or drink coffee.
2. Meet via video conferencing many times a day
First, organize short and regular meetings dedicated to important topics throughout the day and workweek. This will create the necessary rhythm. Second, make it possible for operational meetings between working groups, managers, and employees throughout the day.
Each work team must schedule a short 15-20 minute stand-up every day at a predetermined time. Motivate your employees to come to the stand-up 2-3 minutes before the start and use this time for talking. Ask each other about the weather, family, pets – whatever. Personal and casual communication increases levels of oxytocin and vasopressin, important hormones that enhance warm feelings and affection for others, as well as team spirit.
If you are a team leader, then during some periods you may not turn off your virtual zoom-room at all. Employees will be able to call you during the day for short questions.
3. Focus on visual content
During remote communication, you will need to explain something to employees, for this use visual content. Graphs, tables, charts, posters, checklists can be made using online tools, printed, and hung in the workplace.
When you and your colleague are not in the same room, sometimes it is very difficult to explain something visual that is located on your computer. In this case, it is much easier to show. Use tools to communicate information quickly and visually.
Use tools for quick video or visual communication. When you and your co-worker are not in the same room, how can you explain something visually on a computer screen? Explanatory YouTube videos or tools to record a screen on Mac/Windows are great solutions. Take a screenshot of your desktop and provide arrows, shortcuts, and notes, or quickly create a video of your desktop screen and share it with other team members.
4. Arrange virtual gatherings
Meet via videoconference in the evening after work in virtual hobby clubs and informal get-togethers and dinners. It works! It’s cool, fun, and very unusual, it causes a lot of positive emotions. For example, you can create a special group in the corporate social network where employees can organize various activities: arrange sports challenges, co-watch and discuss Ted Talks conferences, play board games on Zoom, share tips on how not to go crazy at a distance. This way you will build trust with employees.
5. Follow the rules of friendly communication
It is important to note that for employees who are not used to working remotely, text communication can (and often does) lead to latent or open conflicts. This is because we sometimes try to conjecture what the interlocutor wrote or think that the interlocutor knows what we know.
A few tips that you can share with your employees:
- Stop in the dispute, do not try by all means to come out of the dispute as a winner, especially in public chats.
- Assume that the other person had positive intentions.
- Get to know each other (personal relationships increase confidence).
- Be grateful! (Seizing every opportunity to share praise creates a climate where feedback is viewed as a gift rather than an attack).
- Be tolerant, your interlocutor may not know everything (like you).
6. Minimize the number of digital services, standardize them and make full use of them
Use one service in each category, avoid duplication. Someone will temporarily become uncomfortable, but the whole organization will benefit.
You will need:
- corporate messengers Slack or MS Teams;
- Zoom video conferencing or analogs;
- office suite, document filing, and collaboration service G Suite, Office 365, Box, Dropbox;
- digital signature and document management services;
- task management service (Jira, Asana, Trello);
- feedback system from employees of Yva.ai, Glint, Qualtrics;
- instant gratitude systems like Karma Bot;
- corporate social network Facebook Workplace, Yammer;
- other systems.
7. Document everything
When moving to remote work, there is no longer such a thing as “unwritten rules.” Everything should be documented. Even if it is an intermediate solution. Each meeting must have an agenda and minutes of decisions. This is critically important to ensure the transfer of knowledge. When working remotely, especially in different time zones, people work asynchronously, and continuous documentation even in the volume of three lines in the Slack channel compensates for the reduced volume of live communications.
All goals must be defined in writing. For every team and every employee. And the result of achieving these goals should be discussed with employees at least 2-4 times a month, and sometimes several times a week. 1-on-1 meetings have become more important than ever, with records and notes on the content of these meetings in the same document from meeting to meeting.
8. Monitor business processes in real-time
As people more or less adapt to new conditions, company leaders will need to monitor and maintain the effectiveness of business processes. Process Intelligence platforms such as, for example, ABBYY Timeline or similar can help with this. These intelligent solutions in real-time help to analyze what is happening within the organization: at what stage is the task being completed, whether there are deadlines or other violations. They rely on digital footprints that employees leave in information systems, so it doesn’t matter where employees work, in the office, or at home.
9. Provide continuous feedback from employees, measure their happiness and stress
Human capital is an organization’s greatest asset and value, especially in times of remote work. As such, you must constantly think about the emotional, personal and professional well-being of your employees.
But how to understand objectively what can worry or motivate employees? How can they get this information in real-time?
Modern technologies such as Yva.ai and People Analytics automatically measure collaboration quality, engagement, fatigue, stress, burnout, leadership success, conflict, and many other aspects. These technologies analyze passive feedback – anonymized signals of interaction between employees in corporate systems Slack, MS Teams, CRM, email, as well as active feedback – short 60-second individual polls.
10. Identify informal leaders and make them your allies
Did you know that 3% of your organization’s employees control the opinion of 84% of all other employees? These are the statistics. These 3% of employees are called informal leaders. These people have already run your organization to a great extent, but during the telecommuting period, the leadership of your organization will be completely taken over by informal leaders, whether you like it or not.
Do you know who they are? Do they share your values? Are they on your side?
Modern analytical tools ONA (organizational network analysis) allow you to automatically identify such informal leaders, receive feedback from them in real-time and, as a result, establish an emotional and professional connection with them.
We hope these tips have helped you build the foundation of your understanding of how to work remotely and how to become a leader in the workplace. As you and your team are having this interesting time together, as a final piece of advice, we recommend that you be kind to yourself. You are moving in a new direction: mistakes are inevitable.
As you make these mistakes, learn from them and keep going. Your team will support you. How you react to the changing world and navigate the chaos is what they will remember the most. Take action!