In the last few years, people have made a rather seismic shift in their business’ overall daily operations. This likely included the move from in-person work to mostly online, remote work. If you already had software and protocols in place, this may have been a smooth transition.
However, if you didn’t, you likely hit a few snags along the way.
Thanks to some video conferencing programs like Zoom, many businesses, just like your own, may have found an initial footing in this strange new world of business.
One area you might be struggling with is managing your remote team. Instead of having everyone there on hand, your team members are now scattered throughout the region, making in-person communication difficult, and company-wide in-person gatherings all but impossible.
That is why you need to understand how to manage a remote team effectively.
It’s a form of management you may not have been forced to learn prior, but now that you’ve had a bit of time to experiment with the approach, it’s time to take a more formal approach to future proof your organization.
OUR TOP TIPS ON HOW TO MANAGE REMOTE EMPLOYEES EFFECTIVELY
REMAIN IN CONSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH REMOTE WORKERS
Okay, so you don’t need to have one of those annoying group text chats that sound off every 30 seconds, but you need to remain in constant communication with remote workers.
There are several ways you can do this.
You can have regular Zoom meetings where everyone from remote teams logs on. Even when done over a camera, face to face is so important and can help boost morale.
Talking through text and IMs over the day can help, but having a face there does help, and it reminds your employees that everyone is in the same boat, even if they are on virtual teams.
Ideally, you’ll want to have a daily check-in with your virtual team. The morning check-in is beneficial as you can go over what kind of work needs to be accomplished bright and early. If you have a small company, you might even be able to have one-on-one conversations with remote team members.
Whatever you do, continued and constant communication is a must for successful remote work.
GIVE YOUR EMPLOYEES TOOLS TO SUCCEED
Chances are your employees will not have everything at home that they usually would have back in the office. Consider what your employees typically use and then see if there’s any way to provide them these same (or similar) tools.
Yes, an industrial printer shipped to your employee’s house isn’t a viable option.
However, if an employee needs a computer, or if they live in a remote location and they need a cell phone booster to improve signal quality, these are things you might be able to help with to make remote teams more successful.
Company-wide, you can look for ways to ensure everyone remains connected and can access the information they need.
Through cloud services and certain conferencing software, it is possible to share documents, check schedules, and go over everything happening within the business and on each virtual team.
In many instances, it makes working from home easier than working from the office.
MAKE SURE TO COMPLETE PROPER TRAINING
Some new technology can be a challenge for certain employees to learn. There will be those who can pick it up instantly. They thrive on new technology. They may even enjoy it.
And yet others might cringe at the idea of learning a new application. These are individuals who are going to need extra attention up front to help get them off the ground.
You can go over the software and work with them, and our staff here at Charlotte IT Solutions can provide some resources and insights into the best training practices based on your employees and the software you’re using.
This is also important to teach your in-house and remote teams how to take full advantage of features that might not seem obvious, but can provide huge productivity gains.
BE FLEXIBLE (EVEN WHEN IT IS HARD!)
Bendable, flexible, and accepting, whatever you want to call it, you need to be able to shift certain expectations and move with the flow. Because, unlike having your employee at work surrounded by just their colleagues, there’s a good chance they are not the only people at their home.
They might have a spouse that’s also working from home, or they might even have kids who now have to take part in online learning.
All of this means not only distractions but additional responsibilities for your remote team members. So try to be understanding and flexible with your employees. They are trying to wear their worker hat and their spouse hat, their parent hat, and their teacher hat, all at the same time.
LISTEN TO YOUR EMPLOYEES
Not only should you have group meetings and video conferences, but you should have one-on-one video chats. This way, you can discuss everything going on with your employees and pick their brains.
When you do this, make sure to listen to them and consider any suggestions they might have.
They may have some tips that will improve the overall productivity of themselves and the rest of your remote team. Plus, it reminds them that what they say and what they think does matter.
It’s one of the biggest bridges you can build across all virtual team challenges.
THE BENEFITS OF THE HYBRID WORKFORCE
A hybrid workforce system’s main purpose is to achieve balanced work productivity and maintain consistent team effort, regardless of where workers are located. A hybrid workforce provides many benefits for both the employee and employer.
In addition to the obvious benefit of allowing businesses to continue to operate in many different situations, it also offers the opportunity to provide multiple benefits for the employees. Many employers are now using the hybrid system in their permanent work arrangements because of these advantages.
A hybrid setup with remote teams can dramatically lower expenses for the employer in terms of office maintenance and rental space. This will free up funds to support other business aspects, as the employees will no longer need to commute daily.
You will be able to control your budget by reducing the cost of office space, which in many cities has become a crippling expense.
MORE RESOURCES AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
Employers can hire not only local talent but also international talents in a hybrid arrangement with a virtual team. Employers have the ability to hire workers from all parts of the globe. It is then far easier to stay ahead of your competition when you have access to a far larger pool of potential employees.
TAKE A CUE FROM MICROSOFT’S HYBRID WORKFORCE APPROACH
It is not an easy task to migrate a business into a hybrid workforce environment. This process takes time. Microsoft developed tools and a method easy to follow that could help us all navigate into the workforce transition to remote work.
If you have not yet taken any steps to shift to a hybrid system, now is the perfect time to go through Microsoft’s Hybrid Work: A Guide for Business Leaders. This guide will help you understand the importance of making the transition to a virtual team. It can be beneficial for your company and your employees.
Microsoft Teams Rooms is just one of many innovative tools Microsoft has created to support hybrid workplace environments. It connects remote workers from each virtual team to the office with tools that are flexible, secure, powerful, and easy to use. You can also use ZOOM and similar programs if you don’t want to use the Microsoft Suite.
TOP REMOTE WORKING TOOLS
Here are some of the tools you need to consider implementing to connect team members more easily.
How often have you been on a secondary computer, tablet, or another device, doing whatever work you can, when you suddenly realize there’s a file on the primary computer you need, and it hasn’t been saved to the cloud?
It sure is a discouraging palm to the forehead kind of moment as you consider either tracking down your computer (if that’s even an option) or redoing everything you’ve already done.
Thankfully, with an application like TeamViewer, you don’t have to do that.
TeamViewer is a remote desktop application. Basically, it gives you a tunnel into your other computer. By installing the application onto your primary computer and then on the secondary device you’re using, you can open up your secondary device, launch the TeamViewer application, and then view through the application window files you have on your primary computer.
This makes it super easy to transfer files over, which is helpful if you’d rather not save certain files to the cloud. And, best of all, you can use the application on basically any operating system, including Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, and others.
The only thing is the primary computer needs to be connected to an Internet source. If it is turned off and tucked in the trunk of your car at the airport, this really isn’t going to work, because your secondary computer doesn’t have a way of accessing the files.
So while it doesn’t make up for your laptop not being connected to the Internet, it can prove helpful in many different situations.
SLACK AND MICROSOFT TEAMS
The interoffice instant messenger and communication software has met its match. Sure, you could still have a specific tool for remote teams designed for your office, but with Slack and Microsoft Teams, you get so much more.
The software does have a direct message feature, but you can also build collaboration hubs that are specific to certain projects. In recent months Slack has gained in popularity and, in many ways, sets the standard for what all other applications try to do (although Microsoft Teams has been around for longer).
There can be a bit of a learning curve for anyone who hasn’t used these kinds of programs before, but it isn’t steep. And after tinkering around with the application, most of your employees shouldn’t have any problem using it.
Microsoft Teams does have the benefit of having the Office Suite lineup of programs built into it, so it is far easier to share information, files, and other Microsoft based data with other users.
If you are heavily embedded within the Microsoft ecosystem you should absolutely check out the Microsoft Teams software.
When you have a group of individuals working remotely on a single project you need to have project management tools designed to make this remote work easier. There are a handful of project management programs out there but the main reason we’re in love with Trello is because it is super easy to use.
Others can become bogged down with too much going on, which sometimes makes the other applications far from user friendly.
With Trello, you have a project bulletin board and can select the project you’re working on. This essentially zooms into the project and allows you to work on it from there.
Within the bulletin board, you can adjust deadlines, leave comments, upload attachments, and do whatever else you need with the rest of the team. All of this information stays right with the specific project, which prevents unnecessary information from bogging down other projects.
It’s a simple project management software tool that won’t require much training to implement in your business processes.
Have you ever been working on a collaboration project at home, when suddenly you can’t remember if you’re supposed to work on a specific part or if someone else is supposed to?
You could get on the phone and hope they pick up, send them an email or direct message them, but these things can take time, and your productivity suffers.
With Planner that isn’t an issue. Microsoft Planner is another remote working tool that is part of the Office Suite lineup of programs. It allows you to create plans, assign tasks to different people, instant message individuals about what they are doing, and simply keep everyone on the same page.
This is almost as old as an online collaboration program gets. SharePoint has been around for almost 20 years and for a good reason. It functions as a document management application that also doubles as a storage system.
It can also be configured to fit the needs of your office by making it far easier to share stuff with a virtual team.
When you’re on the go, you can’t always access your physical office setup. Thanks to 8×8, you don’t need to. This is a virtual office setup that keeps you connected with your team while giving you the power to chat, host a conference call, call members of your office, and stay on top of all your daily work activities.
OUR TOP VIRTUAL TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES
A strong and well-oiled machine can make it through thick and thin. No matter what the world tosses its way, that finely tuned machine can withstand a beating.
Even if you have a mix of employees coming into the office, there’s a good chance you still have other essential employees working from home.
Whatever the reason, remote work isn’t going away. Remote work will likely, in some shape or form, become commonplace, with many corporations taking full advantage of the benefits it can provide.
While there are several benefits to this, there will be some noticeable drawbacks, including virtual team building. In general, a team needs to be around one another to fit together into an optimal team dynamic. So what should you do if building a team all in person isn’t an option?
Here are our top virtual team building activities and tips to implement.
START WITH A VIRTUAL TEAM BUILDING ICEBREAKER
Have you noticed when everyone first logs onto a video conference, there’s a bit of awkwardness in the air? It’s like it takes everyone a few minutes to feel comfortable with being on camera and talking with one another.
Sometimes this awkwardness can linger and reduce the overall impact of the meeting. Well, to help break this up and to get the creative juices flowing, you need to consider a virtual icebreaker.
With a virtual icebreaker, you can do just about anything. One thing you might want to try is a silver lining icebreaker. This is where everyone has a moment to say something good or meaningful that has happened to them.
Maybe it’s something as small as the grocery store finally restocking their favorite treats, or a collectible toy they had on their backorder finally arrived.
It doesn’t need to be something big, but hearing everyone talk about something positive is one of the easiest virtual team building activities.
The truth is, you can do just about any icebreaker you might like. Perhaps you have an energetic group, and they’d want to get up and dance. Well, play a tune and let everyone jam out for a few minutes. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it instantly connects everyone.
TAKE YOUR HAPPY HOUR VIRTUAL
So maybe everyone can’t get together after work and share a cocktail. That doesn’t mean you can’t host a remote team building happy hour. This works best if you separate your company into smaller groups.
Perhaps take someone from accounting and have them mingle with people in sales and someone in marketing. Have these little virtual team building gatherings last for 30 to 45 minutes or so and let them talk about whatever they’d like.
They can have a cocktail in hand, or they can have water, a can of soda, or anything else. It’s not about the drink but about the mingling with other company members that they might not normally connect with.
To make sure everything is going smoothly, you’ll want to drop in and check out the different groups. You might even want to help spice things up and toss out questions to the groups as part of the virtual team building.
This is supposed to be a fun opportunity for employees to get to know one another.
ENJOY REMOTE GAMES AS A TEAM
Group games are a great way to build team chemistry. Escape rooms have grown in popularity in recent years, but you can’t just get everyone together to go to a local escape room.
Instead, you’ll want to consider a virtual escape room. This works like a Zoom call, only there is software activated on the screen, and the team members can work together to solve clues and puzzles to get “out of the locked room” within a set time frame.
These kinds of virtual team building games are suitable for smaller groups (such as three to five people, depending on the game).
Also, you’ll want to re-shuffle up the groups every time. This way, everyone is in a different group the next time around. And if these kinds of larger games aren’t your cup of tea, you can consider more familiar games.
Websites like Playingards.io have dozens of cards and board games you all can take part in. There are also plenty of online multiplayer board games. These kinds of games can be fun during the happy hour, but whenever you play it, having your team members partake can improve their interactions between one another.
START A COMPANY BOOK CLUB
There’s something special about a book club. If you’ve ever been a book club member, you either love it, or you’d instead read something different and on your own.
Well, this is an excellent way for book lovers in your company to come together in a virtual team building way, read the same book, and talk about it. You can do the same thing with movies or television shows.
Anything to bring everyone together and to keep them talking about what they just saw or read.
LET US HELP YOU SET UP A WORKSPACE OF THE FUTURE
To best stay connected with your team and keep everyone equipped for a new way of working, you will need to take advantage of the different technological options available to you.
Even if you’re already using Zoom or another video conferencing software, there are other services to consider for projects and virtual team building tasks. From improved cloud security and storage to desktop sharing applications, just because your team is away from the office doesn’t mean it can’t function as if they are sitting across the table from you.
It can be a challenge to determine which is best for you, your business, and your employees, but that’s where our team here at Charlotte IT Solutions comes in.
We will work with you and go over your business needs to ensure you’re connected with software that addresses your concerns and requirements. So when you’re ready to take the next step and boost your remote team’s effectiveness with managed IT services or cybersecurity services, give us a call or send us an email. We’re here to help your business through these trying times.