Many people around the world are finding they prefer to work from home. And, if the numbers are anything to go by, this trend shows no sign of abating. Digital transformation has helped drive this, with businesses using video conferencing software and collaboration tools to successfully manage their virtual teams.
Does this mean the end of the traditional office? If the numbers below are anything to go by, it may do. More than 4.7 million Americans, after all, now work from home. But we must remember that not everyone does so out of choice. Some have no option, due to health issues or family circumstances.
Either way, working from home is fast becoming the norm. Although the pandemic has transformed the modern workplace, remote work can visibly improve your company culture if handled the right way.
So, where should you start? Read on for six tips you can put into practice immediately to make your business more productive.
1. Host regular video meetings
Are your remote teams out of the loop? Hosting regular video meetings is a great way to avoid issues caused by communication gaps, while also ensuring homeworkers feel valued.
Virtual meetings need to be planned in advance and hosted at a time that suits everyone. Don’t just tell your team by email, though. Send a recurring diary request so that participants are reminded before each session.
It’s also important to invest in high-quality video conferencing equipment. Poor quality software could lead to issues like lagging, pixelation, and poor quality audio, which will make your virtual meetings unproductive.
Video calls are a great way to:
- Update remote workers on important changes. Don’t let them be the last to find out. This will affect morale and could lead to expensive mistakes being made. If you’ve changed a process or launched a new product, use your virtual meeting to brief employees so they can react accordingly.
- Request feedback, so you can help them. Are your remote teams facing a particular challenge in their work? By getting a problem out in the open, you can neutralize it before it disrupts workflow. Your employees will appreciate the support.
2. Goals first, schedules second
That’s not to say schedules are unimportant. Far from it. Keeping to a routine is essential if you want to achieve a fast and efficient workflow. But everyone works differently, which means a one-size-fits-all solution rarely works.
When are your remote teams most productive? You could force a night owl to start work at 09.00 am but don’t expect to get the best out of them. Much better to let them begin later when their energy levels and mental focus are better.
Be sure to:
- Focus on what your teams are achieving as opposed to how long they’re taking. If an employee takes just four hours to complete a six-hour task, they’re being productive.
- Constantly monitor and feedback. Is a team member underperforming? Do they need more training? Are they overperforming? Then they could take on more complex tasks.
3. Make work fun
Maybe you’re working on a project to reduce average handle time in your call center. That’s an important job that requires all hands on deck. But how smooth will workflow be if your remote team is stressed, bored, or demotivated?
Two ways you can make work fun are to:
- Organize virtual coffee mornings so remote and on-site teams can mix. That way, your employees won’t just be talking shop. They’ll be getting to know one another and sharing knowledge.
- Encourage team members to call one another, instead of using an email client. This will help prevent misunderstandings and help develop relationships on a 1-2-1 basis.
4. Track your communications in an app
Your in-house teams are in the know, but what about your remote workers? They won’t have access to the whiteboard in the boardroom and will miss out on that all-important water-cooler gossip.
Introducing a project management app will overcome this communication divide. Your remote workers will have complete visibility regarding all projects, so they know who’s doing what and by when.
Project management apps:
- Are accessible on any smart device, meaning remote teams will never miss an important update.
- Will streamline workflow by ensuring teams effectively plan, track, and execute tasks.
Bespoke or generic?
Some businesses prefer to create in-house systems. But without continuous testing in DevOps, bespoke software can fail. This will affect workflow.
Invest in manual testing tools and you’ll be able to diagnose problems and create a stronger product.
5. Make things competitive
A little healthy competition can go a long way. Why not set a target for your remote and in-house teams and attach an incentive. You’ll be surprised at how hard everyone works and the bond the process creates.
The exercise should be fairly conducted so that everyone has a chance of winning. This means setting a simple target, like meeting a deadline or hitting their call quota for the day.
You could even make the competition team-based. Why not pit remote workers against in-house or set a group target where everyone gets a free voucher if this is achieved.
6. Publicly acknowledge hard work
If your remote teams are flying, acknowledge it. Failure to recognize hard work can lead to resentment and affect retention levels, yet saying thank you is easy (and free). So what strategies can you put in place to improve employee loyalty and ensure home workers feel rewarded?
- Praise individuals during stand-ups. Saying thank you on a team call is a great way to publicly recognize someone’s efforts. It also gives the person in question wider exposure across the business—developing awareness of their capabilities and skillets.
- Say thank you in your weekly emails too. Singling out hard working members of your remote team via email is also important. These messages can be circulated to the entire company, while also acting as a permanent record of achievement for those mentioned.
- Publicly acknowledge efforts on your notice boards and intranet. This is a great way to build morale across the business and foster a healthy culture of competition, which will lead to better productivity in the longer-term.
Your next steps
The tips and tricks shared in this guide boil down to one thing: Making people feel valued. Use technology the right way and you’ll make your remote workers feel like they’re right there in the office, wherever they might be in the world.
Happier workers work harder and are more likely to exceed customer expectations, so the time you invest in your virtual teams will help retain more clients and win you new ones, too.
Why wouldn’t you want to supercharge workflow, boost employee engagement, and retain more customers? After all, the tips and tricks shared in this guide won’t cost your business a penny.