A Practical Guide to Learn Remote Efficiency
The COVID-19 virus outbreak unexpectedly made millions of employees take their laptops and stay at home. In a limited time-frame, the working-from-home policy has become not a proof of employer flexibility but a response to the uncertainty presented by the coronavirus. As a result, thousands of team leaders and managers suddenly found themselves managing a completely remote team.
Though Gallup analytics reveals that working remotely is efficient and productive, lots of companies were not ready for such an outcome. Managing a remote team can become quite a challenge if you never did it before. Maybe you did not have the opportunity to prepare or remote work makes you want to tear hair out.
As a software development provider that delivers solutions to customers across the globe, the remote is our usual working style. We are building remote teams for clients. We are hiring remotely. We do marketing remotely. We building businesses remotely. We have been combining on-site and off-site work approaches for 28 years.
Eventually, this resulted in strategies that reflect the quarter-of-a-century experience of figuring out what works best to keep a team coherent, motivated and productive. The most important tips are below.
Tip #1. Keep and build a good relationship
You are still one team no matter where you are located now. So, stick to your project routines and traditions, like stand-ups and sync-ups, one-to-one talks. Video meeting is of great help, seeing each other reactions and emotions keeps you connected. Plan online coffee breaks to discuss some out-of-work things. Bring your water cooler talks online, you are still one team working on one project. From the working perspective, nothing changes.
Tip #2. Stay united by development culture
Following the project roadmap is a must! Dashboards would help you with that. When thoroughly created, they help monitor the team’s progress towards the goals and objectives. Celebrate project milestones and add them to the dashboards. They’ll become your powerful tool for progress and analytics management.
Develop project and process documentation and keep it updated. It helps quickly resolve issues and bottlenecks. Run internal audits and implement changes if needed. In terms of processes, the project manager should be meticulous. It is important to demand rules compliance whether you are online or offline. Rules make things simpler, algorithms like “if this then that” opens a definite solution.
Establish onboarding workshops, train your newcomers to follow the process, and they will be on the same page with you quickly.
Tip #3. Leverage working hours
Working with remote employees and teams for quite a while, we learned an important thing. The time difference is an advantage, and you should better learn to leverage it. Agree about the overlapping hours when everyone is always online for sync-up and/or emergencies. It is also important to set up no meetings calendar for all to concentrate on tasks in between. As for the rest, just stick to the schedule.
Treat the time difference as having a 24-hour-team, a dream team.
Tip #4. Manage hand-offs and wait times
You’ll have to accept the fact that your employees are not fastened to the laptops and PCs all day long. They have personal life, families, they need breaks. Though these seem to be obvious things, some managers tend to neglect them.
Make an agreement with your team. For instance, if an employee leaves its workplace to have lunch, the person should change the online status to “away” or “not available”. Take it as a rule. It would be even better if an employee specifies when he/she will be available again. Define hours of availability.
If your employees work from home, they are not obliged to be online 24/7. Everyone still follows an 8-hour-working day. Respect privacy and plan workload, define deadlines and the time of approximate feedback.
Tip #5. Motivate individuals
It is a challenge. Though you may have video calls daily, stay in touch continuously, demotivation is going to happen sometimes. Managers need to develop their approaches to stimulate teammates. On the whole, it is not about rocket science. However, remember to say “thank you” personally and during sync-ups. Provide bonuses. Develop a culture of mutual respect. Talk to your employees personally.
We all are people, and we need to be heard. We need someone to approach in case of failure. Teach your employees to share feedback, good, bad, whatever. You need to know what is the current climate in your team.
Tip #6. Set up communication
Efficient communication can become a blocker for a team. To eliminate the risk of miscommunication, over-communication or any other issues, you will need to establish a communication environment and decide upon tools for project communication. Communication matrix with team responsibilities, abilities and domain knowledge can be very helpful.
The most important thing in remote communication is to prepare. Be ready for meetings, calls, research first before shooting numerous questions. Respect each other time, this regards both online and offline mode.
Going back to Gallup reports, where they state that 43% of U.S. employees work remotely some or all of the time, and many, many other studies that show remote workers are more productive and profitable than in-house employees.
We would recommend you to use this period to set up collaboration practices that you delayed before. Soon you will find out that the teams learn quickly, the level of performance the employees will demonstrate can be surprising. It is time for telework to succeed.
COVID-19 will not be a global problem forever but the non-established remote work can become a never-ending headache.
What you learn about leading a remote workforce now will likely become best practice for your company later on.
Time to apply, time for experiments.