Driving the performance of remote teams requires much more than simply handing out computers and collaboration tools. The key is to empower your remote staff to work effectively as a team.
Set up tools and tasks
Workplace dynamics change in a virtual workplace where staff can’t just pop into the next cubicle to ask a question or have a chat with colleagues in the hallway.
Simply handing out Office 365 logins is not enough, you need to teach your remote workers how to make the most of collaboration tools so they can work together productively. This involves establishing optimised workflows and procedures and communicating them to the team. These should also be documented and stored centrally.
Don’t just decree that your people must use collaboration tools, show them how and why they’re the best tools for the job. Otherwise your team will fall back on old habits that hamper productivity, such as playing phone tag or dragging everyone into long and cumbersome email chains.
Once your remote workers have mastered collaboration tools, it’s important to create clear lines of communication.
Corporate instant-messaging tools offer the ability to create sub-groups and channels dedicated to different departments and topics. Likewise, shared calendars and project-management tools help remote workers coordinate their time and tasks.
Using these tools effectively ensures people always have the information they need at their fingertips, without bombarding the entire team with irrelevant information. Discourage the use of text messaging when sharing information that would be useful to others in the team.
Hold virtual meetings
Despite the efficiency of collaboration tools, there’s still a place for meetings – such as work-in-progress updates and project status reports.
Virtual meetings via voice or video conferencing allow remote workers to raise issues, express concerns and explore ideas. Once again, teach your staff how to make the most of meeting tools. Make time for one-on-one virtual meetings, as remote workers can’t just stop by your office for a private chat.
As you strive to improve performance and efficiency, don’t forget your remote workers are real people.
It’s important to build community and make people feel like they’re part of a team, especially if they’re struggling with the isolation of working remotely. Make time for small talk at the beginning or end of meetings and create a “virtual water-cooler” channel on instant messaging platforms to allow for casual chat and camaraderie.
Trust your team
Resist the urge to micromanage remote workers because they’re out of sight. Instead, establish clear expectations and develop KPIs that focus more on goals than day-to-day activities.
Everyone responds differently to the challenges of working remotely, especially if they’re working from home, so rather than worrying about what any employee is doing at any given time, focus on what they’re accomplishing.
This includes respecting set work hours and downtime, as it can be difficult for people who work from home to wind down at the end of day.
Productivity will suffer if your remote workers burn out because they never get a chance to switch off.
Contact your Telstra Client Executive today to discover how we can help you with business continuity planning.