In light of the coronavirus, more and more businesses are permitting or even requiring remote work in order to keep their teams safe.  For many organizations, this sudden shift is causing a lot of challenges for teams and leaders – especially those without the underlying technology required to properly enable a remote workforce. 

Even in my organizations where we had some remote workers and the technology to support them, moving to full-time remote proved to be initially challenging.

If you want to increase the odds of success with your remote workforce, here are six key things to keep in mind. 

  1. Coordination: Set the groundwork for teams to get started on their projects. This usually includes an explanation of minute details and ensuring that everyone is on the same page prior to employees beginning remote work. Nail down ground rules for schedules, required results, and especially communication.  Be specific on the modes and cadence for communication.  What tools are used for general communication?  What tools are being used for project collaboration?  How does this change the way teams check in with each other?  The more clarity you provide in advance results in greater success for the entire team. 
  2. Timing: Different people are most productive at various times of the day. If the business case allows, figuring out this time slot could allow for greater output. Just make sure everyone is on the same page and able to communicate effectively. 
  3. Diversity: Recognize that various individuals think, learn, and create in very different ways. While working from home is more productive for some, it is less productive for others. Develop a plan and strategy to overcome these issues. Some employees will need more direction and contact, others will find that bothersome. Work to understand the unique needs of each team member and treat them accordingly.  Leverage behavioral analytics tools to understand how your team members are wired in order to create a process that helps them be the best version of themselves while working remotely. 
  4. Consider the Team: The size and nature of the team can affect how easy it is to remote work. With a large group of people, for example, in-person contact is needed in order to coordinate on projects. On the other hand, smaller teams might be able to correspond via Skype or FaceTime. Make sure you leverage a platform that works for your unique team, keeping platform and tools consistent across the entire organization. 
  5. Know Your Colleagues: When it comes down to it, an employer must know the employees well enough to determine whether they are responsible and trustworthy enough for the privilege of working at home. Perhaps some team members have shown integrity and work ethic; these employees might deserve more flexibility than team members who require more direction and constant interaction. The only way to determine this is to observe and stay in-tune with these variances.
  6. Breathe: The quick shift to working at home can be stressful for many leaders, especially those that have never managed remote staff.   Realize that challenges will arise and technology will break – its just a matter of time.   Being resilient and working toward addressing the problem and not creating fear and panic is critical, especially as we deal with the effects of Covid-19.

Although remote work will most likely change in the future as a result of our current circumstances, it’s important that we keep our teams healthy and engaged as we navigate some rough water.  Changing our workflows and processes on the fly is challenging, however, keeping these points in mind can make the transition easier. 

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