Working together while working apart has become commonplace and will continue to be more important than ever these upcoming weeks and even months. Thousands of in-office workers are experiencing their first foray into the world of remote working as businesses try to manage the threat of COVID-19 by asking their employees to stay home. Since Echidna’s founding, we’ve served many companies as a virtual extension to their teams- building a proven practice of team collaboration, project governance, and reliable delivery whether team members are in the office or distributed far-and-wide. We’ve put together this informative blog and free downloadable resource to help you navigate remote teams' best practices.
Before we dive into managing a remote team and best practices for working remotely, let’s understand the advantages of finely tuning your virtual business environment.
Once workers are set up for successful virtual working, businesses report seeing higher productivity. Thanks in part to a more flexible schedule, none of the in-office distractions, working on their own terms, and no work commute (among other factors), workers are actually more productive at home.
Case in point: Cisco’s Internet Business Services Group came out saying they saved $277 million annually in productivity because of remote employees.
Some think that self-governing will lead to a lack of structure and productivity, but data has shown the opposite when it comes to those allowed to work from home. When managing a remote team you will notice those employees with greater autonomy will show improved responsibility. They go above and beyond the results when they are able to manage how they come to the results with how they are most comfortable.
This can be debated, but ultimately working from home is less distracting than being in-office. Even during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders when children and roommates or spouses are all under the same roof, remote working still offers less interruptions than a normal work day. Remote workers generally report accomplishing more in less time, being more willing to work longer hours, and taking less time off because they get to work in the comforts of their home.
Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report states that 43% of employees now work remotely at least some of the time, and the percent of employees who work remotely 100% of the time is now 20%, up from 15% six years ago.
Virtual teams need strong leadership more than ever. Leaders should become intentional in their virtual workspace and consider these three best practices.
Keeping connection with your remote team and making sure you are providing stability during times of disruption like COVID-19 is extremely important for managing a remote team's success. Making sure you are reaching out to your team members to show personal support and address concerns around the change in working conditions. It is also important that you clarify the expectations of working virtually and support the development of these new skills. Lastly, maintain a level of stability and normalcy when managing a remote team. Assure members your full support and confidence in their ability to adapt and excel and make sure every week to meet as a time for that connection. This is very important for building trust, flourishing responsibility of working at home, and maintaining company culture.
Make sure your remote teams have the technology and know how to use it in order to meet their goals. When it comes to virtual presenting our virtual teams best practices guide offers several tips in order to succeed. Also make sure you have an online meeting spot where you can easily chat and collaborate with one another. Software, docs and data should be made available to your teams at home. Make sure you are leading by example, becoming proficient with the tools of your virtual office and setting the example you expect from your workers.
Now more than ever, people need flexibility in their work schedules. Being aware of different circumstances like those who may have children at home is the best way to show respect and understanding for other team members. Letting people work remotely and tying them with a fixed schedule can ultimately prove to be counterproductive and bad for morale. Let expectations be set on a regular basis for goals, communication, meeting times, and then let people do their personal work at their own time.
Working remotely can be a major win for your company and people.
Yes, it does take time to get up and running, might require new technology, and even a change of pace- but on the flip side you can also save money, increase productivity, and improve company culture.
The best way to manage a remote team is very similar to managing an in-office team. Build trust, keep open communication, and focus on efficiency by utilizing the appropriate technology.