Running a business with maximum efficiency is rather like playing a complex strategy game. In other words, it’s significantly easier to handle when all your pieces are directly in front of you. Trying to play chess with your pieces spread across various boards throughout the country (or even the world) is awkward, to say the least, calling for near-constant communication to determine where the pieces are positioned and how they should be interacting.
Remote leadership is nowhere near that bad, of course — but it certainly presents some fresh challenges for those more accustomed to the old way of working. Take the wrong approach and you can see a work-from-home (WFH) team fall apart, losing its productivity and becoming a source of frustration. So how can you keep a remote team on track? Here are four key tips:
Adopt a hybrid approach to working
Having your company rely on remote working doesn’t mean that distance needs to be constant. There may well have been times during the COVID-19 pandemic during which it simply wasn’t possible to get people together, but that roadblock won’t be an issue in perpetuity. What you should be aiming for is a hybrid approach: giving everyone the option of working remotely, but maintaining some office space and arranging some semi-frequent meetups.
Consider that you don’t need to rent a distinct office for a year or do anything comparably weighty. Instead, you can rely on flexible office spaces, paying only when you actually need space. You could, for instance, arrange two big team meetings per month, renting the necessary space for those days, but otherwise working fully remotely. You can also take advantage of technology tools like Zoom Rooms Video Conferencing which allows teams to collaborate effectively through an executive-level video conferencing platform. It’s a great way to keep team members in touch without causing friction or massively raising your financial burden.
Centralize your task management
Ensuring that everyone knows exactly what they should be doing (and when it needs to be done) is of paramount importance, which is where centralization becomes vital. Companies that use to rely on tasks being passed out in person can no longer use that approach effectively, and allowing actions to be distributed inconsistently through various communication channels is a recipe for confusion and disaster.
The solution is to use task management software — just the one application — to track all tasks, monitor progression, and chase vital deadlines. It’s worth looking at a tool like GetBusy that has robust options for scheduling reminders: you can ensure that someone approaching the deadline for an important task is given ample notice of its tremendous significance. Regardless of which tool you use, though, instruct everyone to use it for all their tasks. Allowing some actions to be logged on one system and others to be logged on another will make things messy.
Define personal progression paths
These are uncertain times, and many people are worrying about what the future holds — particularly regarding their careers. After seeing so many competent professionals lose their jobs during the last year, it’s only reasonable to have concerns. Due to this, people want to know how they can improve their skills, grow their roles, and become more valuable.
Professional development matters, and as a leader, the onus is on you to help your team members with this. Speak to them in an effort to gauge what they hope to achieve in the near future. Look at their personal goals and try to figure out where they overlap with the company’s goals. Is there something someone wants to learn that might add value to your business? If so, invest in it through committing to a course of action – a Personal Development Plan, to be specific: High Speed Training has more on this. Knowing that they’re progressing will help people to stay motivated.
Support flexibility and autonomy
As much as keeping a team on track requires a strong hand, you can’t be too demanding or introduce too many restrictions or it’ll lower morale. Moving to the remote-working model has shown countless professionals the benefits of taking charge of their workloads. Some people prefer to work in the morning, while others prefer to work in the evening. Some workers need to be around others in order to prevent feeling isolated. Many coworking spaces offer Day Passes which can be booked in advance or even that same day. Your WFH team member can buy a day pass online at a coworking location near home, check into the space and get working! Why not allow your workers to manage their own schedules (provided they hit the key targets)?
Supporting flexibility and autonomy will show people that you trust them, bolstering their loyalty to the business (and thus making it less likely that they’ll look for alternative offers). If you can achieve a great balance through pushing your workers to stay productive without removing their freedom to work as they prefer, you’ll see excellent results.
If you’re looking for a hybrid solution for your remote team, or just need to change-up your work-from-home (WFH) routine, check out a Pacific Workplaces location near you.