Many organizations underestimate the challenge of transitioning from an in-person office to a remote work environment. Within a survey of 133 US executives, a third of them stated that they leave their remote work strategy up for chance.
Although this relaxed approach to remote work may seem like a logical pathway, it can actually cause organizations to lose control of their remote workplace. The rapid shift from in-person teaching to e-learning during the pandemic showed this phenomenon perfectly. Many students began getting lower grades after the transition if the right strategy was not in place, causing unclear expectations and miscommunication.
Remote companies report that their challenges are much the same, and include struggles with:
When left alone, these challenges can take a significant toll on productivity and morale, and stand to cause remote employee burnout and high turnover. However, the right remote work strategy can help make the transition smooth and successful. Here are our seven steps when leading your organization’s remote workforce strategy.
1. Support employee workspaces
The first step towards a successful remote team is ensuring that employees have access to all the necessary tools and equipment to work effectively. These include but are not limited to:
- A computer or laptop
- A strong tech stack to facilitate their work
- A printer or scanner (if needed)
You should also consider having a dedicated space where employees can go to get away from distractions. If possible, this area should be private so that employees can focus without being interrupted by others.
2. Establish clear expectations
It's easy for miscommunications to unfold in a remote work environment. Perhaps, you’ve accepted or assigned an assignment without full context, creating conditions for a subpar deliverable or a prolonged deadline. Or maybe you are not sure who is accountable for what steps within an essential project timeline. There are endless scenarios just like these two around deadlines, deliverables and more. Many of them can be solved simply by setting better expectations.
To do this, managers and employees should aim to provide the full context of assignments and detailed status updates, even if it takes that extra couple of minutes. Consider investing in a remote collaboration tool like Workday, Trello, Asana or another option on the market to help facilitate better expectations, and ensure your teams stay in sync with ease from any location.
3. Give your team autonomy
As mentioned earlier, trust is an essential aspect of every relationship. However, since you're not physically present, you won't have control over everything within your organization. That's why you must give your team some freedom.
For example, you might decide to let them choose their hours of operation. Or perhaps you could assign specific projects to each member of your team. By doing so, you'll encourage your employees to take ownership of their tasks.
4. Set up best-practice meeting protocols
Virtual meetings facilitate in-person collaboration and help you track what's happening within your company. They’re also opportunities for you to check in with team members and help them overcome any blockers they face.
However, be wary of too many meetings. According to new research, 70% of meetings are unproductive and take away from employees’ time to get work done. Excess meetings can lead to complex workplace issues like unproductive workdays, a poor work-life blend and burnout.
To create a more balanced remote workplace strategy, train managers on how they should schedule and manage meetings by advising them to:
- Strictly limit meetings that take an hour or more
- Let meeting participants leave early after they have contributed their update, such as in a weekly meetings
- Help them advocate for themselves and their team members if they have too many meetings
- Ensure that every meeting has an agenda
- Check that all meeting participants have clear action items after meetings
- Assess if meetings are contributing to a project’s completion, or holding it back, to find a meaningful solution
5. Provide training and learning opportunities
There's no denying that remote working isn't a new concept; it dates back as far as the 1980s. However, the pandemic completely transformed the workplace and required a lot of strategic, creative solutions to achieve better business results. Tried and true methods became irrelevant, competition became more competitive and skillset lifecycles dwindled. Today, the half life of the value of most technical skills is only three years.
What this means: if your organization is not continuously training and upskilling its employees, it’s already falling behind. To perfect your remote workplace strategy, don’t just consider your employees’ jobs descriptions and what they currently offer, think of who they can become in the future and plan accordingly.
Adopt a remote workplace culture with a growth mindset by ensuring that employees:
- Receive superior training on their work management tools
- Are challenged and inspired by their work, while still being supported
- Have access to learning opportunities like virtual events, online courses, new responsibilities and more
- Are given the freedom to test out new strategies and skills
By creating a supportive learning environment within your organization, you’ll engage employees, and they’ll thank you in return with a more refined skill set they can put to work.
6. Create a culture of transparency
Transparency is one of the core values of any business. Since you're not physically present in your office, you'll need to be extra vigilant when it comes to keeping your team informed.
This means you'll need to create a strong digital communications strategy that includes all the channels that work best for your team, whether that’s by email, slack, calendar or other platforms. This way, your team members will always know where to look to find important information, such as:
- Company updates
- Tutorials and templates
- Project timelines
- Collaboration spaces
7. Implement people analytics
People analytics can be an invaluable tool when creating a remote workforce strategy. It helps maintain the visibility within remote organizations while driving digital transformation and better remote work processes.
How so? Well, it allows you to see which employees are doing their best work; who needs improvement; and how employees feel in relation to their work. In other words, it gives you insights into your team members' performance and allows you to identify growth opportunities. That way, you can improve your remote teams and drive success.
We invite you to check out our resource on how the future of people analytics is changing for more information.
Finetune your remote work strategy with expert analysis
The world we live in is changing rapidly. And this is particularly true when it comes to technology. So, it's imperative that you adopt a holistic approach to managing your remote workers.
With these seven well-thought-out steps, we're confident you'll be able to create an unbeatable remote work strategy that will enable you to thrive. Remember, the goal is to maintain strong relationships while giving your team the freedom to do their best work.
At Pattyrn, we believe in the role of remote teams in helping companies succeed. That's why we’re committed to helping HR leaders set up their remote infrastructure from day one. We leverage people analytics to provide insights into employee engagement, sentiment and productivity levels. From there, we offer customized recommendations to ensure that your remote workforce strategy works for both sides.
So, let us show you how we can help you achieve success in this fast-changing digital landscape. Request a free demo today to see our product live in action!