Remote working rethought

In response to the uncertainties presented by Covid-19, many businesses have been forced to make their operations virtual, with existing workforces working remotely, or being let go to save on overheads. It’s a period of change, and with change comes difficulties, but also opportunities. Now, might be the perfect time to rethink the structure and productivity of your business.

Long before this global crisis, we were helping companies to hire highly-qualified and specialist remote employees for a fraction of the cost of an in-house employee. We find the perfect candidates, and help businesses to integrate effective remote working strategies into their company culture.

In this beginner’s guide to remote working, we have combined our first-hand experience with industry research to create easy-to-implement steps to help you prepare your business for (remote) success.

Create space for conversations

Many managers worry that remote employees will not work as hard or as efficiently without face-to-face supervision. Whilst research shows that this is not the case, the first thing on a remote leader’s checklist should be to check that you’re spending enough time listening to your team and their individual concerns. This helps remote employees to feel supported and part of a community, which will have a positive impact on their productivity and enthusiasm. We suggest using Slack to create a place for discussion, whilst setting time for regular check-in calls over Zoom, Skype or FaceTime. These could take the form of one-on-one calls, or a team call, if your employees’ work is highly collaborative. What’s important is that the calls are regular and predictable, and that they provide a space for employees to consult with you, and raise their concerns and questions. However, it’s equally important to set aside some time for non-work related chat. This can be as simple as asking your remote employee what they have planned for the weekend, or scheduling virtual office parties in which the whole team comes together for an informal chat over drinks and snacks. Whilst the latter may sound like forced fun, it can really enhance a team’s sense of unity.

Streamline working processes

Remote workers’ productivity is often hindered by the added time and effort needed to locate information from coworkers even if it’s just an answer to a simple question. Again, this comes down to communication and ensuring that each member of the team knows who they should be reporting to and when. Using online servers such as Dropbox or Google Drive, can be an easy way to save and share files, cutting back on the tedious back and forth of emails.

Get to know the tech

Using the right technology can have a huge impact on a remote team’s productivity. When it comes to communication, for example, email alone tends to be insufficient as there’s a risk of instructions and feedback getting ‘lost in translation’. We’ve found that video conferencing is highly effective in providing participants with visual cues, whilst also creating a sense of togetherness as employees can actually see who they’re working with. Video is particularly useful for complex or sensitive conversations, as it feels more personal than written or audio-only communication, whilst less formal or time-sensitive conservations may require mobile-enabled messaging services such as WhatsApp, Slack, Microsoft Teams etc. If you’re unsure which tools might work best for your business, our team will happily provide further, inexpensive suggestions that have been tested for ease of use and the highest level of data security.

Establish rules of engagement

Over the years, we’ve found that remote working is most efficient when managers establish clear expectations for their remote employees in terms of communication. For example, ‘We use Zoom for our daily check-in meetings, but WhatsApp for urgent questions.’ It’s also important to let your employees know the best way to reach you during the working day and if there are any times that you may not be available so that they can more effectively organise their own working schedule.

Shine a spotlight on good work

Remote employees often miss out on valuable praise. If somebody’s done a good job, let them know, or better yet, share it with the whole team. This shows individuals or teams that their effort is recognised and appreciated, whilst also allowing others to see what good looks like and how they might be able to also achieve success.

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