Following the coronavirus pandemic, organisations have had to learn to adapt to a 'new normal' which has seen fundamental changes to the way they operate. While strict quarantine measures no longer apply, there are more flexible, or hybrid, remote working practices that we are still adapting to.
As a team, Prospect has undertaken remote working since even before the pandemic, so we would like to share some hints and tips for leaders and managers in supporting staff to stay connected and sane during remote working and best practice principles in chairing virtual meetings.
These tips are for managers and team leaders who are setting teams up for remote working. They may seem simple and common sense, and indeed they are, but sometimes in times of chaos it is easy to forget the simple but important factors that contribute to team working.
Three Tips For Leaders and Managers to Help Their Staff Get Used to Remote Working
Tip 1: In thinking about remote working, leaders and managers need to consider 'how can we ensure we are ready for remote working?'
Getting the infrastructure right is important.
Do people have the requisite technology or access to it? Who has a laptop? Will those who do have laptops be able to dial into their organisations easily? Will they have the software they need to be able to do work, have conference calls, etc? What about the employees who don’t have laptops or mobile devices?
How do you make sure that they have access to the resources they need to do work? Direct
managers must very quickly ensure that every employee has full access, so no one feels left behind.
Tip 2: What should people who aren’t accustomed to remote work do to get psychologically ready for it? It is important to share with the team the following advice:
Develop rituals and have a disciplined way of managing the day. Schedule a start and an end time.
Do your normal routines as if going to work. Take a shower, get dressed, even if it’s not what you’d usually wear to work, then get started on the day’s activities. If you’re used to moving physically, make sure you build that into your day. If you’re an extrovert and accustomed to a lot of contact and collaboration with others, make sure that still happens.
Make time during the day to keep connected to work colleagues so you don’t feel lonely or isolated and stay healthy, productive, and vibrant? Create that for yourself. Managers of teams need to think about how they ensure the team still feel connected and are informed of the things they need to know about.
Tip 3. Communication, communication, and more communication.
It is important if remote working isn’t your normal way that everyone in the team keeps connected. The manager and the team need to decide how those check-ins should happen.
How often should we communicate? Do we do this as a group? In one-on-ones? Via phone calls or video chats?
There are now many different technologies out there like Skype, Zoom, Slack, Jive and Yammer, etc. These can be used for video calls, phone calls or team messaging. Decide as a team what works best and settle into a communication routine.
Initially until people get used to new ways of working we recommend that team communication should be at least daily, it needs to give people essential updates, check how people are feeling and check if they have the resources required. Also, to ensure you are reviewing progress and asking their opinions, such as 'What’s the best way for us to work together?'
It also ensures that you show you are taking on board their opinions. You can also make your meetings fun. It’s important to still have a sense of fun, this could be in the form of a cake and coffee hour or a virtual lunch, just to name two examples of things that can continue the connection you had at the office.
Once people are getting familiar with this way of working you can reduce the amount of time needed so instead of daily you could go to two or three times a week. If you’re used to having meetings, continue to do so. In fact, contact should probably go up for the whole team and its members. Those working on critical projects and people who need more contact will require extra one-on-one.
Tip 4. Some managers worry and ask 'how do I keep staff focused and committed?'
During virtual working it is important to set clear and achievable goals, ensuring people have task orientation within their roles and that progress is monitored. Feeding back to individuals on progress is important, what is going well, achievements, and areas that need to be different need to be clear
Some staff need variety in their work to keep motivated so you may need to consider, how can you ensure they are feeling challenged with a positive level of job satisfaction and enough variety so it doesn’t stifle creativity and innovation.
There is a lot of research showing that virtual teams can be completely equal in their performance to those who aren’t virtual. Of course, it requires clear leadership, communication and effort to ensure everyone is happy working virtually.
If you would like to discuss over a virtual coffee how you can ensure your team remain high
performing, please get in contact.