As we continue to see Covid numbers going down, businesses starting to re-open, and people returning to the office, the question on everyone’s mind is “will we ever return to normal”? Ideally, we would like to think we will soon experience “business as usual” but is that the reality? Now that employees have had the chance to work from home, some may have really enjoyed the flexibility, while others will have struggled with the lack of structure.
This new working reality is an excellent time to reframe work dynamics. What has worked for your organization over the past 15 months? What as not worked? What do you want to keep doing and what might you need to stop doing? How do you support new practices that include remote working?
Here are some ideas to help your company set up remote employees for success.
1. Prioritize communication. Now more than ever, good communication is paramount to success. What are your workers asking from you? How can you ensure everyone — both remote and on-site workers — are staying connected? Regular team meetings are a great place to start. This is a good time to discuss what is working well and what is not working as well. Be open to one-on-one discussions. Ensure that an open-door policy is fostered, especially with remote team members.
2. Foster engagement. This builds on communication. When open discussions are happening and you’re listening to and responding to feedback, you’ll know what your employees need to stay engaged. How are you working together as a team? Are you connecting and collaborating? Are you sharing (and open to receiving) feedback? Here are some connection ideas:
- Connecting as a team to play games on a Friday afternoon via Facebook or apps like House Party
- Organize virtual coffee or cocktail hours – this can be a fun way to maintain connections that would normally be made between team members in the lunchroom or after work
- Start a company-wide book club; meet online to discuss
- Organize an online escape room event
- Host an after-work cooking competition
- Send out a dinner menu and recipes – have team members cook the same meal and then share it virtually.
It takes a little bit of creativity but the efforts to build relationships and have fun together will pay off as your team stays engaged.
3. Set clear expectations. Having a clear set of responsibilities and outcomes will be critical to ensuring everyone is on board for successful outcomes. Make sure your mission, vision and goals remain front and centre for all workers. Have your team set some ground rules together. This allows for effective collaboration and teamwork.
4. Avoid the temptation to micromanage. Have faith in your employees. You hired them for a reason. Monitoring outcomes is important, but it shouldn’t include looking over their shoulder all day long. Communicate clearly and state goals and deadlines, then let your team do their thing.
5. Demonstrate adaptability. Not everything will fall into place right away. There will be a few hiccups as everyone navigates their way through a post-covid work environment. Remain calm and help your team navigate the new challenges they are facing. Listen and respond to feedback, and learn to be a change ninja, adapting to emerging needs and changing landscapes.
6. Level up your documentation. With more moving parts and people in different locations, it will be more important than ever to manage business details. Keeping detailed logs of your projects, meetings, and conversations will help not only your day-to-day communication but also the long-term outcomes of your business activities. Laura Spawn CEO/Co-Founder of Virtual Vocations suggests “one of the best skills a remote worker can have is the ability to keep a log of project details, including reasons why it was discussed and when, along with links to the appropriate documentation for easy recall”. With so many affordable apps and collaboration tools available there’s no excuse for poor record-keeping.
7. Celebrate your team successes. With the continued changes expected in workplaces now and in the future, ongoing learning and trial and error will take the front seat. Champion celebrating your team’s successes. We have seen a lot of stresses this past year, but we’ve also seen people rise above and do more than expected, putting themselves out in support of their team members and their organizations. Tell your team what they have done well and that you appreciate the teamwork they have demonstrated.
Focusing on these things will not only set your team up for success but you will also reap the benefits of flexibility, productivity and freedom in your business. Business magnate, Henry Ford, once said: “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”. These words ring truer than ever as we look towards a future that will require management creativity and innovation in bringing remote and onsite teams together.