While lockdown regulations are lifting considerably, it’s true that business won’t return to normal quite yet – possibly ever. If this was your company’s first time working remotely, it was likely an opportunity to see how – and if – remote work is successful for your team. A recent study from Global Workplace Analytics reported that 77% of the workforce wants to continue to work from home even after the pandemic is over. While the rationale could be out of an abundance of caution or simply because a workday without a commute is considerably more convenient, it’s likely that your team will be working remotely for a while.
While the pandemic as a whole can feel like doomsday to a business, thriving is possible. Monty Hooke, the founder of Philippines outsourcing company The Exponential, told me in a conversation that “It is critical that leaders make very quick decisions from a position of strength, and move past ‘survive mode’ to ‘thrive mode’ as quickly as possible. For any business to adapt to change, now, or ever, it is critical for the leader to be on the offensive move of innovation and growth, not just a defensive move of survival.” So, here are three strategies to help your remote work team thrive – so you can be on the offensive in an ever changing business landscape.
1. Manage Metrics Instead Of Hours
One of the most common complaints managers have about remote work is the inability to ensure that their team members are actually working the whole day. To relieve these concerns, here’s an idea: seek to manage key metrics rather than number of hours. Keala Kanae, the founder and CEO of Fullstaq Marketer, told me that they set KPIs, communicate them, then use that for measurement. “We’ve found that our team members appreciate the autonomy that comes along with being tied to a number rather than a time clock,” Kanae told me. “It conveys a sense of trust to our team members that we don’t much care how long they work to hit critical KPIs as much as them hitting it.”
It’s true that some of your employees may be efficient enough to hit those KPIs with time in the workday left to spare. Let them. If they wrap up work at 2:30pm but they’ve already succeeded in moving the needle forward for the business that day, everyone wins. And, a more well-rested and happy employee is a more effective employee.
2. Implement Tech To Track Tasks And Progress
To make the establishment of these KPIs and each team member’s progress toward them as easy as possible, put tech to use. You may be used to just asking in person how a project is coming along – but that’s a bit harder now. Especially when needed to communicate across teams and multiple people, one central software location that shows real time progress and updates can help with transparency and efficiency. Utilize a platform such as Trello, Asana, or AirTable.
It may take some time to get up and running on the platform – but that’s time that’s worth the investment! Host one onboarding meeting via a screen shared video call to walk the team through how to use it. Ask each team member to leave the software up to date with their work on a schedule that works best for you – at the very least, to fill the team in at the end of the workday. Set a daily deadline. Then, plan in your own schedule to go into the tech and see how the day went and what needs to change for the days ahead.
3. Have Weekly Morning Meetings
However, keep in mind that teams thrive most when they’re able to communicate face to face. For example: perhaps one of your team members is having a hard time with their current project, but they’re figuring it out slowly and trudging along. You’d never know that they’re struggling and may need some help from a tech spreadsheet alone. By asking how things are going by video call, you can get a better sense for how things are really going and talk out potential problems.
Michaelangelo Moran, the co-founder of GO-JEK, Bali Praia & Streamland, swears by the importance of morning meetings – even for bigger companies that can’t all hop on one main zoom call. “GO-JEK now has several departments and it has become impossible to meet with everyone. So, start at the top and let the meetings trickle down,” Moran advised. “Emphasize communication, as this is everyone’s chance to speak up.” As you begin the meetings, you’ll figure out for your own company who to include in which meeting if you have a bigger team. As with anything, it will take trial and error – but it will be worth it!
It’s highly likely that remote work will define at least a fraction of the work moving forward beyond the pandemic, so setting these strategies and systems into place now will help your company not only survive, but thrive.