The COVID-19 pandemic has led many businesses to work from home for the first time. The transition to a remote workforce presents its own challenges that might seem daunting, but with the right structure, you can get back to business. When your communication and productivity is on the line, you’ll want to manage your whole team as if you were all still at the office.
We have nearly two decades of experience in remote setups and disaster recovery. Because of that, we’ve gained valuable experience in developing best practices for working from home. Keep reading for our list of 5 tips on how to manage a remote workforce.
1. Find the right messaging platform
Communication is among the biggest hurdles for remote teams. A crucial guideline is using a the right instant messaging platform to guarantee everyone is on the same page. Internal communication is the easiest method to deliver news on projects, updates, and responsibilities. Furthermore, it allows workers who are social distancing to check in and stay in touch.
Platforms like Trello, Slack, or Microsoft Teams are our go-to IM solutions. We recommend separating conversations by tabs so that your various group chats stay organized. For example, your project managers and billing department might not need to be in the same conversation all day. Efficient communication is the backbone of a successful disaster recovery plan.
Though communication is imperative for any project, it becomes indispensable when you have a decentralized team. As a manager, you should create dedicated threads for different departments. Make sure that the platform you choose is easy to load, sign in to, and navigate on your staff’s devices. If you let any communication fall through the cracks, you expose yourself to the risk of missing deadlines.
2. Maintain a proper work-life balance
One of the greatest challenges facing any decentralized work force is a clear understanding of what they need to accomplish. In order to be effective, it is imperative that all program components are clearly defined and actionable. The more you tamper expectations, the greater the likelihood that you can stay on task and on budget.
The same way that you have personal and work emails, you should separate your responsibilities at home. Our homes are filled with distractions like kids, pets, and chores. Do your best to block time in a quiet location away from these stimuli. If you lead by example, your remote workforce will stay focused.
Because your staff’s remote equipment contains your company’s private data, you should follow cybersecurity guidelines. A secure file sharing service like Dropbox or SharePoint can facilitate access. Your worst-case scenario is a data breach, so make sure your staff takes this responsibility seriously. Privileged personal data, like that of your clients, customers, or patients, needs to remain confidential. Your company’s disaster recovery backups should include this data as well.
3. Track your daily tasks in one place
Instant communication is the foundation for working from home, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Project management software like Zoho, Autotask, or ClickUp is the ideal way to coordinate your team. Since messaging can only get so far, you need to maintain a way to track hours logged on individual projects. To achieve this, you should be able to create and assign tasks to your team in a top-down system.
Working with a clear goal promotes your staff’s workflow. For instance, it’s easier to plan ahead when you can see the next week’s tasks. No matter if you’re in an industry that handles deliveries or support tickets, delegation is key. This is why using a task management tool is indispensable in a decentralized team. Employees should be able to track their own project goals while you see the big picture.
4. Use teleconferencing software
Relying on face-to-face communication is a cornerstone for team morale and productivity. Teams who regularly discuss issues with teleconferencing software are generally more productive than those who don’t. You can depend on a teleconference tool to arrange consistent follow up meetings with your remote workforce. This increases both engagement and productivity. We recommend platforms like GoToMeeting, Slack, or Google Hangouts for video calls.
Because your team doesn’t have the same access to you from afar as they would if working in the same office, they should understand that assignments and roles might be more fluid than usual. When your remote workforce has flexibility, they’ll feel more empowered to ask for help and clarity. As a result, this has a positive effect on their daily workflow. Connecting face-to-face is also vital to mitigate social isolation and have more transparent feedback.
Managing a decentralized team is becoming much more typical in today’s workforce, especially in periods of crisis and disaster recovery. In order to be an effective manager, you must be prepared to evolve and change your message. You cannot guide and communicate to your team to the same extent as if you were all under one roof, but you can come close. By utilizing video calls, you’ll be ready to manage your team without interruptions.
5. Adapt to shifting responsibilities
A positive feature of decentralized teams is that they’re constantly changing. The best disaster recovery strategies are proactive, not reactive. Periodically review and analyze indicators of your productivity. Watch how the team adapts to changes in process you make to determine the best way to work together. Adaptation is a very important part of the success of decentralized teams.
Effective team managers step back periodically to analyze their workflow and review staff progress. They look at what’s working, what isn’t, and change course when needed. Strong team leaders move beyond building a team of champions to building a championship team, where each member of their remote workforce constantly evaluates their contributions. As a manager, you should delegate by asking, “What should we keep doing, stop doing, and start doing?”
An unplanned closure or the goal of work-life balance are both valid reasons for a remote workforce. Whether you rely on a remote setup by choice or by mandate, these tips can maximize your remote team’s productivity.
Stay Socially Connected
Connect with Cinch I.T. on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn using the hashtag #cinchit.
About Cinch I.T.
Since 2004, Cinch I.T. has been providing customer-focused I.T. support for businesses of all sizes. Every element of its support is designed to provide not only the best I.T. solutions, but also the fastest and friendliest network and computer support in the industry. Cinch is one of the nation’s fastest-growing I.T. franchises with 7 locations and counting. To learn more, visit cinchit.com. For more information about franchise opportunities, visit cinchfranchise.com.