Working remote is a very new concept to many and are lost on how to make sure they can still be productive. Many owners are worried that their staff are sitting around playing games or watching movies instead of working. Its a valid concern. Working remote is something I have done for over 8 years. The first 3 years I ran an IT Consulting company (same name as my current one) and then I managed an IT department for a Dental organization with over 800 employees and 35 locations. I would like to share with you some of the things I learned to help you make the most of your situation.
The difficulty in being remote is that you can easily slide into feelings of isolation. You are not in the office so you cannot easily just turn around and start talking. This makes many have forced communication which quickly slide into just direct and more focused conversations. That is a good thing to a degree, but that leads to conversations that are cold and can make teams fall apart as they no longer have the warmer friendly conversations they are used to. These reasons are why I tried to avoid email for my direct team. Its slow, to formal, and cold. Instead I focused on using 3 other technologies: Instant Messaging, voice, and video calls. Why? Well these platforms allow a more informal setting so they could be more comfortable. In short, it was a huge success. Let me explain how I did this, and why I can say its a success.
Communication is the key.
Since we were no longer sitting across the room from each other I needed to keep both formal and informal conversation to keep that Team feeling alive. At first I deployed a simple IM solution that is similar to Skype or Google Hangouts to try and fill the need and it worked, but once we migrated to Office 365 (now called Microsoft 365 at the time of this writing) I dropped that basic IM solution for Teams, I’m glad I did. Teams added a lot of value because it is much more than a simple IM platform. It allowed my team to chat in group channels instead of just 1:1 and team voice & video conferencing. Again, stepping away from 1:1 for more group conversations. This is great, but what happened was better than I expected. This gave a new culture to develop in my team. We quickly adopted to saying “Good Morning!” as each person started their day in the general chat channel. The ability to post funny meme’s, gifs, and other media allowed some informal and fun conversations to happen. In short, while we were remote, we never felt remote because my team kept that close feeling. It also kept us more productive as we could centralize our documentation and knowledge base and finally integrate it with other tooling for alerting and other benefits.
However, not all employees are built for working remote. For those I had go into the office. It allowed them to step away from their home environment so they had fewer distractions. Others I found thrived from being able to work from home. For those I allowed some flexibility for them to handle their personal lives, in return I found they were completing projects more quickly and overall moral improved.
This is just 1 of a few things that I did to keep the team alive and thriving. Hopefully it helps point you in a good direction for your business. If you are looking for similar solutions like the above that can help you keep your team working strong please reach out to us.