Hybrid and remote work is here to stay. It may be a while before we see how wide this trend goes. 73% of workers say they want flexible remote work options. Companies failing to deliver could be looking at significant employee turnover. The 2021 Work Trend Index, published by Microsoft, shows that 41% of employees are thinking about leaving their current employer.
As companies and employees adapt, intelligent managers will need to evolve how they build and manage remote and hybrid teams. It requires a combination of tech, culture, and strategy.
Creating A Remote Strategy
Developing a strategy to incorporate remote work on an ongoing basis means a shift in approach. Blending traditional in-office work with remote work must be seamless and consistent regardless of where employees are working.
Companies also need to approach remote teams as a competitive advantage rather than a workaround to maintain operations.
Remote work allows companies to hire differently. Geographical restrictions no longer bind organizations. Since remote workers may live anywhere, this opens up the talent pool available to fill jobs.
Developing A Remote Culture
A remote culture needs to value remote workers. They need to be treated as valued team members and integral to getting work done. The best teams will interact the same whether someone is sitting next to them or working from home.
Managers may need additional training on blending in-office and remote teams. They will also need to learn a different way to evaluate remote workers. When employees are in the office, managers can see and watch them work. They have visual evidence of their work habits. When employees work remotely, managers will not see them as often, so they need to adjust their expectations appropriately. This likely requires training and adjustment to any performance evaluation forms.
Enabling Remote Technology
Remote workers need the appropriate tools to get the job done while working at home. In 2020, companies scrambled to equip employees with laptops and software to get the job done. Many are still working with personal devices and ad hoc software.
In 2021, it is time to standardize equipment, software, and procedures. Whether it requires company-supplied equipment or minimum standards for BYOD, organizations need consistency to optimize performance. For hybrid workers, this means the ability to transition from home to the workplace with ease. Many companies are moving to cloud-based virtualized desktop solutions to make this move possible. Some of these solutions include:
Online Time Tracking
Remote teams engage with the organization differently than in-house employees. They can manage their time during different hours, work from their kitchen table or coffee shop, and ultimately have an overall more flexible work-life balance. While this is great for company culture and employee morale, it doesn’t come without difficulties for businesses that need to manage remote workers.
Productivity and HR complications are two areas that can suffer from remote workers if not managed properly. Time tracking tools like Ontheclock help to alleviate these issues in the following ways:
- For hourly workers who need to clock in and out during specific hours, accuracy is essential for payroll and accountability.
- Manage PTO directly from an app to create precise paid time off the payroll.
- Use GPS to track employee locations to ensure team members are where they are supposed to be during work hours.
Communication & Collaboration for Remote World
Throughout all of this, there is one clear thing impacting the workplace in more significant ways than ever before: the importance of communication.
When people are working in-house, they often hear things and pick up nuances from conversations. They might overhear managers explaining something to another employee and adjust automatically. Remote workers miss out on these informal communications. It’s why everyone needs to focus on the significance of consistent communication with small teams.
The right collaboration technology will help, especially if you standardize platforms and require their use. However, in-person, one-on-one, and group meetings will be essential to build and retain top-performing teams.
Managers also need to listen carefully to employees. When communicating with remote teams, it can be easy to fall into the habit of one-way communication, relaying important information and assigning tasks. Getting feedback is important to help manage employees and ensure the work performed will meet requirements. Some collaboration tips and tools to consider include:
- Project management tools such as Wrike, Trello and Workfront provide a central location where everyone involved with a specific project can view progress, collaborate on assets, provide feedback and progress initiatives towards completion. Make sure to create consistent and repeatable workflows for each project so every remote team member involved knows what their role is and what’s expected of them each step of the way.
- Meeting tools such as Zoom and GoToMeeting are exceptional at videoconferencing and in-meeting engagement. These tools give presenters the ability to share screens, record presentations, and allow for a chat during meetings. Remote teams rely heavily on these meeting tools to stay on the same page with other remote team members.
- Communication tools like Slack and Skype give remote teams an area for less formal channels of communication. A quick note to a colleague on these tools is a great way to get questions answers without going through the process of requesting meeting times. They can also be leveraged as a virtual “water cooler” to help remote team culture and grow otherwise tricky relationships in the remote setting.
Remote Work Security
Another significant piece that needs to be addressed is security. Home Wi-Fi networks and personal devices simply do not have the robust security measures your company networks have. This creates significantly more threat vectors for possible unauthorized access. Make sure you require each of your remote or hybrid employees to follow company security protocols:
- Password management is a critical security protocol for remote teams. Tools like Lastpass create encrypted passwords for each login account you use, ensuring cybercriminals can’t crack your password.
- Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt all data during transmission is essential for remote teams who work from home or on the road. VPN’s create a secure tunnel to the internet, making it virtually impossible for hackers to access personal and business data online.
Time Tracking and Remote Team Performance Wrap Up
Remote team performance is a hot-button topic across the business landscape due to the mass movement out of physical offices in 2020. By shifting work and storage to the cloud, employees have access to the same software and documents they need regardless of where they are working or what device they are using. Time tracking, company culture, security, and communication have been the areas that are critical when creating a high-performing remote workplace.
About the Author:
Matt is a seasoned marketer and entrepreneur who has led startups like ChamberofCommerce.com to over 2M members and deployed industry-leading content marketing programs for powerhouses like SAP and Campaign Monitor. Matt’s focus is to lead the charge in connecting brands with their customers in a meaningful, authentic way.