In a post-pandemic world, a work from home staffing policy is common for many companies. With a fully remote team, it can take some thought to get your management processes in check. With the right things in place, you don’t need to worry about staff, you simply need to maintain your quality management strategy well.
These tips will help you to make sure you are on track with deadlines, your staff and virtual office productivity.
1. Communicate to employees that it is still “work as usual”
Encourage employees to keep to their regular work hours and to take breaks at lunch time. Employees need to understand that there are core business hours in which they should be available to the rest of the team or clients. Having a shared cloud-based calendar like Google Calendar is one way for colleagues to see the availability of one another when scheduling remote team meetings. Encourage employees to finish work in a timely manner to avoid working unhealthily long hours.
2. Ongoing excellent quality communication is vital
The use of regular face to face interactions with the likes of Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype and Whatsapp video chats will keep human connection between team members . Face to face communication via secure video chats will ease the feeling of isolation that some people may experience working alone, particularly extroverts. Sharing face to face experiences with colleagues who are in a similar remote working position, will keep up company morale. If you have meetings with people in the room and others remotely (a hybrid working setup), always stop to let the remote attendees speak first and avoid discussions amongst those in attendance physically.
3. Track project progress and milestones simultaneously on cloud-based apps
Whether you use the free or premium versions, applications like Asana and Trello are useful in monitoring the progress of tasks and responsibilities for projects requiring multiple team members. Visible to everyone with different levels of access, these tools enable managers and team leaders to manage remote teams promptly.
4. Help staff who are less technologically capable
Having to embrace new technologies to get the job done can be daunting for some employees. Get inside or outside help to assist these staff members to feel comfortable with the chosen tools. It is an adjustment for some to work remotely, having to come to terms with new technology can be a leap too far if left unsupported. There are no stupid questions and backup should be available.
5. Ensure you have load-shedding connectivity plans in place
Conduct an internet connectivity audit to ascertain what support your staff might need to remain connected to the internet during periods of load-shedding at home. Consider purchasing UPS's or cellular connectivity modems and bundles as back-up options.
If this is not possible, get staff to block out load shedding time on the shared calendar to indicate downtime.
6. Remind your staff to find a quiet space to work at home, with minimum interruptions
It is always best for remote working staff to find a quiet space in which to work by setting up a home office. If this is not possible, then train your staff to explain to callers that they are working from home and may hear the sounds of children and other family members in the background. Most people will be understanding in this post-pandemic working world. If these noises bother you look to purchase your employees' headsets that reduce outside noise.
Be aware to brief your staff about the home office expenses they are able to claim as a remote worker.
7. Consider VOIP connectivity for telephones which work well for virtually based companies
VOIP telephones and applications are internet-based and when the hardware connects to a modem allows your staff to make voice calls. Call costs are billed to you, the employer, making it a convenient way to monitor call costs. It's a handy way of making calls, and once it's set up, it's a lot cheaper than using regular phone lines or cellular call costs.
8. Focus on productivity and outputs, rather than presence and inputs
Trust your staff to deliver the results your business requires. Measure outputs and deliverables rather than worrying about hours at a desk. Ensure your employees have clear work plans with measures on what it is they are required to deliver. Use point number 3 to allocate, measure and manage output delivery.
9. Get regular feedback from your staff as to their wellbeing and work progress
Have an open line with your staff. Let the team know that you are available to talk if they need extra support while working from home. Show your support and excitement for the remote workplace. If motivation seems to be dropping, organise a weekly or monthly team "jelly" where everyone checks in on a video chat and hangs out together. With more junior staff, you may want to have more regular hangouts with managers to check in with them and see how they are progressing and if they need support or just a chat.
10. Be encouraged that technology has helped millions of people to work remotely
It is estimated that 70% of people globally, work remotely for at least one day a week. It's a growing trend. RecruitMyMom, a South African online recruitment agency for companies who embrace flexible and remote employees, is an almost entirely virtual organisation. They find more and more employers are using technology successfully for remote working. If you have the right tools, attitude, trust and aptitude for remote working, it is just like business as usual.
There are many positives to remote working. Increased productivity and flexibility are just two. Let's not forget the positive environmental impact of having fewer people on the roads during peak-hour traffic. For companies where the in-office culture is an integral part of who you are, having to consider permanent remote working can be daunting, but it can be done without negatively impacting the business. Giving your employees the choice to work in-office or remotely is first prize, as no one working style fits all.