Mar 26, 2020
Teleworking, Your Only Option
Written by Nathan Johnston, Chief Technology Officer
Over the last several years, working remote from a location outside the office has grown immensely in popularity. In 2017, more than 40% of the US workforce worked remotely in some capacity (Gallup, Annual Report: The State of the American Workplace, 2017).
Following the onset of COVID-19, working remotely has become the only option for many firms. We have been forced into a state of teleworking, in some cases, without the time to plan or prepare our teams. It’s worth taking a moment to consider the following best practices.
Teamwork. Just because employees are working from home doesn’t mean they don’t require the rest of the team. Develop a communication structure that fosters consistent communication and knowledge of project goals and objectives. Now that everyone is remote, it’s not too late to work out strategies that promote connection and teamwork. Set aside some time for informal conversation in a virtual group setting to discuss these strategies.
Reliable Customer Contact. Without your office, meeting rooms, and whiteboards, communication with your customers can become challenging. Utilize all the tools at your disposal but be prepared for interruptions and service problems. If your video conference tool is failing, or the customer is having trouble getting their PC audio to work, fall back quickly to a telephone call and email presentations to recipients. Don’t’ spend your valuable customer contact time trying to fix camera, microphone, and PC problems. Prepare your conferencing tools, but plan for alternatives should something stop working.
Trust Your Team. This one’s pretty simple. Trust your employees. With teams working remotely, it can be challenging to trust that they’re using their time effectively. Don’t constantly interrupt your team members with ad-hoc requests for status. Give them space to work and believe that they are working to do the best they can under changing conditions. Track their work through a consistent process. If you are an ad-hoc organization, now is the time to evaluate strategies you can implement quickly to improve visibility to work-in-progress.
Manage From Results. For those of us who enjoy walking through the office to see how everything is going, it’s time to adopt a results-oriented culture; allowing employees time to get their jobs done while tacking deliverables to ensure project and productivity goals are being met on time.
Evolve. Be prepared to change strategies as you learn. Realize that effective strategies learned over the years may not work as well when you’re forced to change communication patterns. Talk about what is working and what is not and adapt to remove roadblocks and streamline communication.
This will be a challenging time for many of us, but we have the benefit of technology and connectivity unlike ever before. Many companies have not had the time to plan before being thrown into teleworking. Helping your teams form new communication strategies will not only allow business operations to continue, it will continue delivering benefits in the future as we recover.