While many companies, faced with keeping their employees safe with coronavirus, have made the transition to working from home with a tremendous amount of grace, there is one thing that many people are missing during this time: interaction with colleagues.
There are a number of ways to create rich and effective communication in a remote work environment. These strategies will keep your team feeling connected and efficient.
Hire the Right People
As members of a remote team are tasked with doing the same job under different conditions than their in-office counterparts, it is important that you hire the right people for your remote work teams. The best remote workers are self-starters who require minimal supervision. They must certainly be problem solvers–since they can’t ask questions any time they want, you want to make sure that they are the kind of people who are willing to research answers or create novel solutions when nobody is around to help them.
If your team has transitioned to remote work from an office environment and you did not have the opportunity to be deliberate in your choices regarding which employees would work from home, lay out clear expectations for your team. What habits do you expect them to utilize in their new role? What norms do you want to be clear for them as they embrace these new challenges? Set your standards and don’t be afraid to engage in regular check-ins until you are confident that they are being met.
Establish Norms Around Communication
Have you ever gotten a text message from a colleague near midnight and wondered what to do? Instances like this can make it challenging to remain friendly and show your commitment to the team while still maintaining the boundaries that make work-life balance successful.
Work with your team to develop a set of norms around communication. Non-urgent options, like email, can obviously be utilized at any time. But what about texting or calling your colleagues? Find out whether or not your team believes that such communication should be reserved only for work hours.
Our team at LightHouse Graphics uses Slack for much of our in-house communication. One feature we appreciate is that team members can set their app not to receive notifications, just like you would with your cell phone. This enables our team to send the messages we need to send with confidence that our teammates will get to us when they are back at their computers.
Create Organizational Systems
When working remotely, you lose the ability you once had to pop into the office next door and ask your colleagues questions. This means that teams have to be particularly intentional about how they approach collaborating with one another. This can be especially critical when it comes to working with clients that various team members might assist.
This is why our team uses Asana. With a variety of templates and other productivity features, Asana allows us to create digital workspaces for each of our clients. This way, if content creates a blog, social media post, or email funnel for a client, every other team member who works with that client has access. This means that when our clients call us, they can feel confident, knowing that we all have access to their projects and are up to speed on their wants and needs.
Trust Your Team
While it is perfectly normal to check in on your team members to ensure that things are going well, one important choice you must make when going remote is to trust your team. Organizations whose team members indicate that they feel trusted experience higher levels of productivity, and therefore open the door to greater opportunity.
Create strong and efficient systems for your team to engage in and then sit back and allow them to show you their strengths. If something is not going as well as you would hope, avoid the temptation to micromanage. Hold a quick meeting with that employee to let them know your expectations, allow them to ask any questions that they may need, and then give them the room to prove themselves. In most cases, they are likely to meet, and even exceed, your expectations.
Have Some Fun
Because remote teams do not work together in-person, people often experience a temptation to cut the fun. With virtual productivity apps checking our keystrokes and clicks, many of us feel an urge to get as much done as we can in as little time as possible. While we certainly aren’t telling anyone to lower the bar for their own productivity, we are telling you that it is okay to let your hair down a little bit. Take a couple of minutes to check in with your team members at the beginning of a meeting; as you build relationships with your team and develop faster working habits as a result, these check-ins will pay dividends.
At LightHouse Graphics, we engage in a couple of small, but meaningful rituals that helps us to stay connected. First, we go out of our way to remember birthdays, and, where possible, celebrate them over video chat. Second, we carve time in meetings for icebreakers and other activities to better understand each other. These small, but deliberate choices, help us to feel a part of a broader team, which allows us to work with each other in a more relaxed, streamlined capacity.
LightHouse Graphics Is Here to Support You
For many of us, our experience with LightHouse Graphics was our first time engaging in remote work. This means that we all faced our own learning curve on the road to developing the best methods for serving you, our clients. We want people to have the benefit of our experience! Reach out anytime for help managing your company’s backend operations, and we will be happy to assist you!