Keeping the wheels turning while working remotely is on the minds of many Texas companies.
For those who have never done it, questions of how to maintain regular hours with your team while apart and how to best communicate and keep everyone on the same page with the same productivity and enthusiasm for the projects and upcoming agenda can feel overwhelming. Reform Austin dives into all of this and how companies can continue team building while working remotely.
1. The first thing to discuss is connectivity.
Do your employees have Wi-Fi at home? Do they have the technology they need to communicate with other team members they work with on a normal day? Does everyone in each department have the right technology — computers, laptops, headsets and camera access, etc.? And if they don’t, how can your business offer this to them?
How will you touch base with your team without being overbearing but ensuring the work gets done? Tools such as Google Hangouts, FB Office, Zoom and Slack are easy to learn and use. Citrix is popular and provides the ability for employees to connect and organize data in one place, with everything ready, able and secure on any network, device or digital workspace.
Then set up a round table in-office before your team starts working off-site, or if they are already home, send guides on how to set up platforms to connect digitally. Making sure your team has the equipment and tools they need to work effectively will allow your team to thrive. Be patient and understanding as some of your team members may not be familiar with the new programs that allow communication everyone needs.
2. Next is software and security.
Do you manage your finances in-house? How will you do it remotely?
For security, require your employees to sign out when they are not using their computer. Software programs such as Timesheets.com and personal-finance software will be very helpful while your team works remotely. Also task-management programs such as Trello could be helpful. Exempt employees need to be paid in full for any week in which they perform any work remotely, according to a Forbes article on working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
3. Maintain a regular daily schedule.
Discuss with your employees your expectations for the daily schedule. Will you still have your morning meetings and meet at a certain time virtually? How often will you suggest your members check in with their supervisors? How will you handle client calls virtually?
Keeping a structured schedule while working from home can help your employees feel focused and productive. Hourly check-ins or communicating on platforms such as Slack or Asana can make the day feel fluid and helps to keep the momentum and pace of the day.
Distance from your employees might create anxiety when it comes to accountability, but remember that decreasing the interruptions that an office can bring can now help the team focus. Encourage and state a morning routine, check-ins and stick with them. Keeping a schedule also can help your employees collaborate, and it can help their mental health, as being busy and engaged with their work and the progress being made can help fight depression. Programs such as Evernote and Dropbox can be really helpful to balance collaboration and organization.
Employees may need to provide more frequent progress reports since it may not be clear to managers what they are doing from afar, the Wall Street Journal reported.
4. Ensure everyone has a back-up plan.
Whether your company is currently working off-site or will be in the near future, ask your employees to list what their job responsibilities are and who they would go to should they fall ill, so everyone is covered. Knowing ahead of time who the backup is for your employees will help you also mentally prepare for unexpected changes. Share phone numbers and tell your co-workers to teach their back-up plan person the ropes of what they do, and the program and tools they use to make it happen, so that someone falling ill doesn’t mean the ship sinks on a project.
5. Keeping company culture digitally.
Scheduling breaks with your team can create a connection. Keeping company culture remotely can help your team face the anxiety, loneliness and depression that can happen to remote workers. Providing positive feedback and letting loose before a morning meeting can keep the team connected and in sync. Holding a team powwow before lunch or a virtual group lunch can boost connectivity and keep the camaraderie with your team while staying successful.