Whilst some of us are able to go back into offices, a number of firms are continuing to request that their teams work from home. It’s something we should be very practised at now, but moving from an emergency way of working to a fully optimised and long term approach are two different things. So what are the best practices for managing a remote team?
There’s no doubt that when managed in the right way flexible working has huge benefits. Not only does it generate a happier, more productive team, but it also provides a valuable incentive to the best talent, with today’s job seekers demanding broader choices in terms of how and where they work.
Research tells us that even pre-pandemic 50% of global employees were working outside of their main office for at least 2.5 days a week. With rising office costs, teams working more remotely and globally and as new generations enter the workplace, presenteeism is losing any appeal it once had.
So, how can you create a business environment conducive to remote working? At the heart is a culture of trust and transparency. It might sound simple, but it’s not necessarily easy, particularly without the right tools. Here are some things to consider when creating an effective remote working environment.
1. Invest in / use the Right Tools
Teams sometimes struggle with remote working because they’ve taken the step of changing how their business functions without investing in the infrastructure to support that new way of working. A successful remote team needs to digitise the following:
In any office, remote or otherwise, you need direct communication, whether you’re discussing something work-related, telling a joke, or just making small talk. There are many great tools that offer this such as Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Slack.
The lower likelihood of bumping into others and having corridor conversations makes meetings essential in a remote working environment. Using the communications tools above to facilitate ad hoc and scheduled meets can help. Make sure that you use the video functionality so you do not lose the non-verbal element of communication and that your meetings still have a stated purpose and defined outcome (even if it is just to check in).
Task & Process Management
Getting a clear view of what everyone is working on in one place is vital. It can be hard to visualise everything being worked on if it is stored in many different spreadsheets or systems. The goal should be an easy to use online system that can be quickly checked to ensure progress is being made.
At Acada, we believe that effective technology is key to managing a team remotely. Our software solution, Projectview is a secure, highly visual and easy to use online procurement workspace, which enables your team (wherever they are based) to:
- View real-time project information and reports
- Standardise processes
- Give stakeholders easy access to data and reports
- Easily visualise the team’s capacity and delivery
- Reduce time inputting data, increasing efficiency
- Easily access project documents and templates
2. Effective Stakeholder Management
Make sure that your stakeholders know how to get hold of you – whether that being on an IM, phone, WhatsApp or during a regular meeting. Understand how they like to work and communicate.
Processes should be able to facilitate remote approvals. For example, embedding an online signing tool such as DocuSign / Adobe Sign / HelloSign in your contract signatory process is a must and saves so much time and paper, and can be used instead of email approvals for internal approvals too.
Stakeholder management is another area that needs lots of focus and it can be better to over-communicate until you are clear with stakeholder preferences to make up for the lack of face-to-face contact. Again, video calling can help here.
3. Create an Environment of Trust
Leaders of virtual teams, tasked with the responsibility of putting together a team that fosters productive and long-lasting relationships, know that building an environment of trust, collaboration and communication with remote colleagues, can be the difference between failure and success.
Trust works two ways. You need to trust your team members, but they also need to trust you. In a high trust culture, employees are more productive, feel valued and less stressed. If your team feel that you are not open to remote working you may find they come into the office unnecessarily and become less productive.
To develop a culture of trust it’s important to look at delivery, rather than the hours spent on the job. Your team’s output is a sign of their hard work. Validating and recognising your team when they do a good job is even more important in remote teams, as remote working can make you feel detached from team successes.
4. Develop a Remote Culture
The biggest disadvantage with a remote team is the lack of face time, and the lack of human interaction. This can sometimes disconnect the members of the team who work remotely from the rest of the organisation. Your team need to really get to know each other and this doesn’t happen at an annual face to face meeting (though those meetings are important). You need to invest time developing a remote culture.
Set up weekly virtual team meetings to see how everyone is getting on. Are your team experiencing any obstacles they need to overcome? Does anyone need some guidance or help. Discuss issues as a team and allow everyone to have some input. Perhaps arrange for one or two members of the team to provide an update on their projects.
Social meetings are also important. Can you arrange a virtual social meeting or training with your team? Or perhaps a monthly remote meet-up in different locations that some of your team can attend? Try to create a relaxed, collaborative environment.
Acada Projectview provides a digital workspace for remote collaboration on your sourcing projects and helps leaders and stakeholders get a better view of what’s going in across an organisation. To get a demo and understand how this can help your team, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org