You’ve made the right choice — and the hard choice — for your company.
You recognize, after COVID has ballooned again, that your people all over the country have found a way to work, build, and breathe separately. Their kids might jump in on a call, and they might eat a second breakfast while a colleague is finishing up their dinner, but the work flexibility has created a world they don’t want to return from.
So, you’ve decided: instead of being ad hoc about remote work, you want to make it work for real in your company. You need to learn the institutions, the culture, and the leadership necessary to make sure your transition is perfect for your context.
Admittedly, this isn’t an easy task. How do you know you’re all swimming in the right direction? You have to remember you do these tasks:
Increase Transparency — In traditional settings, team members were able to walk into the kitchen or work room to view in-person posters or a dashboard on a TV. This way no longer works when thinking through how your team will get their information. That means it becomes increasingly important to find ways to provide updates and information virtually. There’s no shortage of online management software and tools out there, but these on their own won’t be enough. Managers should schedule regular check-ins for updates and Q&A with their teams, and senior leadership should come up with a clear strategy for disseminating information quickly and efficiently to the need-to-know folks on a regular basis.
Promote Individual Accountability — One of the many managerial complaints has been how to manage accountability on teams when major projects and deadlines are coming up and people are distributed. A shift to remote changes the way plans and processes can be managed. No more chasing folks down the halls. Status meetings, which were already ineffective, are now even harder. To meet this challenge, you’ll have to leverage standard update processes as a checkpoint for accountability. Before forcing micromanagement tools, find ways to empower employees to own their own success and accountability.
Keep a Strong Culture — Companies live and die by their internal culture. This means that being virtual increases not only the need to maintain it but also provides an opportunity to address some of the things you may want to address within it. Things such as your DEI strategy, should be readdressed, especially if it was not working ideally before, or you need to recenter some voices. Keeping a lively, interconnected culture doesn’t mean forcing your employees to constantly do Zoom happy hours — it means gathering input from all your folks, but especially the most marginalized, to see what makes them feel connected to each other and the organization at large.
Revisit Your Training and Development Program — Companies are increasingly realizing that training in the social and relational aspects of remote work is at least as important as training in technology and company policies. A recent survey showed that 64% of executives plan to invest in training leaders to manage a more virtual workforce. The success of your remote work, just like in-person work, depends on how well your managers are running their teams, but virtual work requires different skills and abilities. Investing in remote-work training and development at the front end will save you many headaches down the road.
Transitioning your team to remote work can be a boon to your organization rather than a burden. A virtual culture can empower your team to do their best work by affording them the flexibility and freedom to manage their workflow around their own particular strengths, better maintain work-life balance, and gather top talent together from far-flung locations.
The trick is, of course, getting it right — and that means intentionally building a community that all your people buy into, with accountability measures to make sure it doesn’t go off the rails.
We are prepared to partner with you in providing training on how to enhance remote work, including: establishing working norms, building trust, effective virtual communication patterns, and incorporating social elements into virtual work relationships.