With a bulk of the world’s businesses being thrown into a completely new remote workspace dynamic, many employees and employers are trying to adapt to the changes as quickly as possible to minimize the strain that’s been placed on their normally structured routines. The sudden transition from well-designed productivity spaces to much less formal home working environments has caused a great deal of confusion and challenges for workforces in practically every industry out there. The change has left some managers and employees scrambling to adjust their approaches in a number of ways in order to find the best remote working strategies during the global social distancing practices. Whether you’re adept at remote working conditions or you’re completely inexperienced with continuing business outside of the office, here are a few tips to help you restructure your approach to navigate the distance between you and your team:
Remote Working Strategies Starting Point: Assess the Situation
With the sudden drastic changes business owners and employees are facing, many entrepreneurs feel like they’re fumbling around in the dark in their attempts to navigate the new process of working remotely. For those who are struggling to get started, one of the easiest ways to begin is simply to assess the current situation and take stock of what has changed, what isn’t working, and what needs to change in order to smooth things over during this transition.
By taking a quick step back and assessing your current situation, figuring out the best plan of action to successfully continue working remotely can become clearer. To put it simply, your first step should simply be to take a look at what aspects of your structured work environment are most essential to its effectiveness and find ways to provide these aspects to both your own home work environment as well as those of any of your employees. These items can be as simple as providing the necessary equipment (laptop, printer, phone, etc.) or more complex like providing remote access to a server, network connectivity, files, and other more industry specific items. Whatever you or your team need access to in the workplace, there needs to be access remotely in order to successfully work from home.
Address any Team Concerns or Questions Immediately
After the initial setup has begun and you (and/or your employees) are settling into your home working environments, it’s important to do another assessment of the situation. As things begin to progress remotely, there will inevitably be bumps in the road as well as several unforeseen frustrations that arise over the changes. It’s important to take stock of what is (and what is not) working for you and your work team in order to address any issues or concerns as quickly as possible.
Staying flexible and acting swiftly are the best ways to overcome any of these hurdles that will come up over the course of the remote phase. This is done by being understanding of the expected changes and by making note of any issues as well as checking frequently with your team to find out what their needs may be. From there, you need to attentively make the changes needed to provide solutions to any issues, questions, or concerns.
Have Necessary Resources on Hand for You and Your Team
As you and your team adapt to the social distancing conditions, understand that each person will likely have a widely varying degree of what resources they’ll need access to. For the more obvious reason (different team members need access to different areas and items based on their position within the team), needed resources may seem obvious (vendor files for sales, accounting software for bookkeepers, etc.). For others, however, resources needed may not be as obvious.
Some of your team members may need remote access to a shared server, while others may need access to high-speed internet if they live in more remote areas and don’t have reliable service at home. Speak with your team members and find out what items they may need to help them with their processes at home and address these resource needs in order to make sure they can stay connected and as productive as possible in an environment that’s much less structured than their usual workspace. If you’re an employee and feel as though you’re struggling with the resources you’ve been given, be sure to speak to your team leader or manager and allow them to help you find a solution that works best for you all.
Stay Connected Regularly with Team Members
The only way to effectively keep the wheels turning during the remote working phase is to stay in frequent contact with all members of your team. Understanding that not all employees will need a constant link to their managers in order to stay focused, you need to be available often and as needed. You’ll want to make sure your team knows you are there for any support or questions, but you also need to give them the space to navigate their own remote workspaces as well as give updates and feedback on how things are going.
Having regular video or conference meetings scheduled can help keep a form of structure in an otherwise unstructured work environment as well as provide a prime opportunity for updates and feedback. It’s important, however, to keep these brief so they aren’t overbearing or adding to the stress of working remotely. Try to remain positive and brief with these updates and keep detailed discussions limited to more direct task-specific conversations. Assigning partners or teams for various areas with a designated team leader can help keep everyone connected with additional resources and less demand on overall managers as well.
Provide Positive and Consistent Feedback Frequently
“Optimism is contagious. Leaders who demonstrate hopefulness and confidence in the future are better able to help their team members find meaning and purpose in work, especially under stressful conditions,” explains Harvard Business Review.
Remaining flexible and ensuring your team’s resources are being met are some of the most important aspects to navigating a change in your work experience, but they aren’t the only factors involved in its rate of success. Keep your finger on the pulse of your team members and be sure to address any issues quickly (or as an employee, bring any issues to your manager’s attention as soon as possible) in order to minimize stress levels and maximize productivity. Communicate with your team frequently and remain positive with a focus on optimism and progress updates as much as possible. Keeping these essential tips in mind will help you successfully manage the social distancing work scenario.