While the pandemic may have thrust remote working on many businesses, this upheaval has often been a blessing in disguise. As well as saving on overheads such as office space, working remotely has provided a boon to job performance. A study from Stanford University found that those working from home are up to 13% more productive.
Therefore, it’s unsurprising that organizations such as Twitter and Slack have given workers the option to work from home permanently. According to PWC, only 19% of companies are planning on returning to a fully in-person model.
Although the potential benefits of having a virtual team are clear, there will no doubt be challenges as both you and your team make the transition to this new way of working. To help you, we’ve rounded up five top tips for ensuring your virtual team functions as efficiently as possible.
Tip 1: Create a productive workspace
Many of us associate working from home with slouching over our laptops at our kitchen tables or bedrooms. This scenario isn’t conducive to a worker’s physical or mental health.
Ask members of your virtual team about their at-home environments. Ideally, they should have somewhere quiet to work that is separate from other distractions. Find out if there are any barriers to productivity and if you can help overcome these.
Do they need any equipment such as a chair that is more suitable for healthy posture? You could also consider running at-home desk assessments or—if budgets allow—funding memberships of shared working spaces.
Other considerations are access to the tools they need like reliable internet, a backdrop panel for meetings, a landline for conferences or receiving calls, or even a computer if their family needs to share one device for school and work activities.
Tip 2: Prioritize communication
With the radical upheavals of the past 18 months, many employees (and leaders) feel anxious and need information. When dealing with a virtual workforce, you must provide key stakeholders with regular updates on shared goals and values.
Also, remember that meaningful communication is a two-way process. Give your employees the chance to voice their feedback on the challenges and opportunities of virtual working, either through one-to-one meetings with their managers or anonymous surveys. Don’t be afraid of negative feedback – this often provides the most useful insights.
If you’d like to fine-tune your team’s communication skills, consider collaborating with a career coach who could provide your team members strategies to forge strong relationships with everyone at the office.
Tip 3: Re-evaluate the 9-5 (with boundaries)
Increased flexibility is undoubtedly one of the most significant benefits of working from home, with this arrangement helping team members to meet all their personal and professional commitments.
Nevertheless, it’s essential to set clear expectations stipulating when employees should be available for work. As well as ensuring staff members are on hand when required, having clear working hours prevents staff from feeling they need to be constantly on call.
Employees are craving flexible working hours to accommodate the changed work from home landscape, with 56% of employees citing a lack of flexibility as a reason they are leaving their job.
Some team members might need to take breaks to help their children log into classes or prepare meals. Others might plan their day around roommate schedules so they can have a productive setup. Listen to your team’s needs and find a flow that benefits the team as a whole.
Tip 4: Trust your employees
With the rise of virtual working, it’s no surprise there has been a spate of headlines about bosses spying on remote workers through keystroke tracking and webcam monitoring. According to Kathleen Quinn Votaw, author of Dare to Care in the Workplace, trust and transparency needs to come from leaders first.
Rather than watching your employees’ every movement, you’ll achieve better outcomes by setting up reliable metrics to monitor productivity. Say a person works in sales, you may want to look at the revenue generated, while customer feedback is an invaluable tool for assessing consumer-facing staff.
Tip 5: Encourage social interaction
Before the pandemic, the most positive interactions between colleagues happened organically. In a remote working environment, creating these interpersonal connections requires a little extra effort.
Devise creative ways in which employees can interact socially. Post-work drinks could take the form of making cocktails over Zoom, or lunchroom catch-ups might become online coffee meetings. Allow for social time before meetings in break-out rooms to build team connection and help the team relax.
When shifting to a virtual working model, it may be tempting to simply take your old ways of working and try to mold these to fit into an online environment. We now have an exciting opportunity to throw out the old rule book.
If you’d like a fresh perspective on supporting your team and gaining insights into their needs, CareerPoint could help you identify opportunities for talent development in this new normal. Contact us today.
Ready to take your team to the next level? Book a 15 min discovery call