As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, many businesses are transitioning into remote-first workplaces. Inspired by the success of companies like WordPress, Buffer, and Trello, companies worldwide are opening up to the idea of remote work. It’s not difficult to see why; remote work brings significant benefits like flexibility, boosted productivity, reduced costs, and staffing opportunities from across the globe.
Remote work is not without its challenges. According to a survey by Buffer, 22% of remote workers struggle with disconnecting from work, while 19% face loneliness. Additionally, certain issues like distractions and lack of accountability can arise while working remotely. However, with good practices in place, you can navigate these challenges and create a productive and thriving remote-first workplace. Here are some best practices that can help you navigate a remote-first world effectively.
Establish clear communication protocols
When working remotely, communication is critical. It’s essential to establish clear communication protocols to ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page. Deciding which communication tools to use for each level of communication will facilitate seamless communication among team members. For example, email for formal communication, instant messaging for quick questions or updates, and video conferencing for team meetings. Make sure to communicate these protocols to your team and adhere to them to avoid confusion.
One way to ensure clear communication is by having a virtual workspace or ‘hub’ where everyone on your team can communicate effectively. This could be a project management tool like Asana, Trello or Basecamp, offering team members a clear place to collaborate, exchange ideas, and keep track of tasks. This will also ensure everyone knows what’s expected, track the progress, and get clear expectations for the team’s objectives and goals.
Set expectations and goals
Working remotely can make it challenging to stay focused and productive. To avoid the pitfalls of remote work, it is essential to set clear expectations and goals for yourself and the team you manage or work on. Establish daily, weekly, and monthly goals to keep everyone on track. Provide KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and metrics so that every team member knows where they stand and what needs to be improved.
Avoid micromanaging and instead trust your employees to accomplish their tasks. This will help foster a sense of independence and ownership among team members, boosting their productivity levels. Every team member should have the freedom to work on their own schedules, and at the same time, they should be kept accountable so the work can be done on time, ensuring deadlines are kept.
Create a comfortable workspace
When you work remotely, the lines between your work life and personal life can become blurred. It’s essential to create a designated workspace that is comfortable, quiet, and free from distractions. Ensure that the workspace is well-lit and ergonomically designed to promote productivity and focus. Comfy chairs, good lighting and even a plant could make a much more comfortable and cosy space.
One way to create a comfortable workspace is by setting up a home office, allocate a specific space in your home dedicated to your office work. This will also help you to establish a routine, helping you divide your personal life from your work life. More importantly, make sure you have access to an uninterrupted internet connection and necessary office equipment such as laptops, headphones, and cameras.
Stay connected with your team
It’s easy to feel disconnected when working remotely. Therefore, it is crucial to foster a sense of community and connection among your team members. Organise regular team meetings and virtual coffee breaks if possible to help team members socialise and build relationships. A more engaged team will work better together, have fewer communication issues because they know each other better, and feel more like a team rather than just a group of workers. This could include the occasional virtual team building activity or happy hour, which is a great way to build team spirit and create a positive and fun work environment.
Encourage open communication and create a safe space for your team members to voice their concerns or ask for help when needed. If you are the one managing the team, ensure that every team member is getting sufficient attention, answer his or her queries, and be available to address their concerns. Celebrate big and small accomplishments as a team to help foster team spirit.
It’s easy to get consumed by work when working remotely. Still, it’s essential to take regular breaks to recharge and avoid burnout. Taking breaks, even if you are not leaving work or the house, may help to stimulate creativity, help you focus on other things, shift perspective, and come back to work refreshed.
Encourage your team members to do the same. A quick walk, grabbing a snack, doing some stretching exercises, or even a quick yoga session can give your mind and body a well-deserved break. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial in ensuring continued productivity and mental wellbeing.
One of the significant benefits of working remotely is flexibility. Embrace this flexibility by allowing your team members to work when they are most productive. Avoid enforcing rigid work hours and deadlines and instead, focus on results. This will help foster a sense of trust and independence among your team members, enhancing their productivity, creativity and job satisfaction levels.
Encouraging employees to work when they are most productive can help relieve stress, since working in a quiet environment often makes people more productive. As long as they get their work done, don’t micromanage your team members. Emphasizing a results-based culture can boost employee motivation and drive, which is essential in a remote work environment.
Invest in technology
Working remotely requires the right technology to ensure seamless communication and collaboration. Selecting the right technology tools is critical to facilitate excellent remote working. For example, video conferencing software like Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams, project management software like Asana, Trello or Basecamp, and communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams are essential.
Make sure you provide the necessary resources, training and support to help your team members make the most of these tools. Invest in licenses, infrastructure or machines with the capacity to handle the volume of workloads, so your team can work efficiently even with system upgrades.
Prioritize work-life balance
Working remotely can make it challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Encourage your team members to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Make sure you schedule in a reasonable amount of time for them to complete everyday tasks, and that they have breaks during the day to recharge. You can set ‘office hours’ in which you could coordinate availability of all team members for any questions or needs.
Make sure to prioritize work-life balance by promoting a healthy work culture that values mental, physical, and emotional health. Ensuring your team members have a good work-life balance will keep them engaged, motivated, and productive.
Working remotely can make it easy to focus on the day-to-day tasks and forget about the bigger picture. Celebrate wins, both big and small, to help your team members feel valued and motivated. Recognize team members who go above and beyond and show appreciation for their hard work. This will help to maintain a sense of community and motivation, as well as establish trust within the team. There are some creative ways to celebrate your team’s accomplishments; for example, you could let the team members choose their reward, host a virtual team dinner, or give shoutouts on a team chat.
Recruit the right talent
Remote work can make it easier to bring talented professionals from across the globe onto your team. Prioritize flexibility and be open to a broader range of skill sets, experiences, and working hours. Take the opportunity to expand your search and tap into a more diverse pool of candidates than you would if you were confined to a traditional job market.
To ensure that remote employees are the right fit for your company, you may need to adjust your recruitment process. Remote employees require unique skill sets such as adaptability to different working hours, excellent communication, emotional intelligence and strong time management. Therefore, you need to ensure you are asking specific questions related to these skills and experience during recruitment.
Address performance and communication gaps proactively
Remote working may bring communication gaps and inconsistent work quality, which needs to be addressed proactively. Regular check-ins, periodic evaluations, and feedback sessions can help to identify performance and communication gaps early.
Establishing a culture of open communication can help to prevent potential communication issues from arising. Companies with remote teams may consider setting up an anonymous feedback system to encourage feedback and suggestions from employees, identifying issues and possible solutions before they become bigger problems.
Personal development and training
Just because your team is working remotely doesn’t mean learning needs to stop. Personal growth is essential to maintaining a stimulated and productive team. Investing in personal development and training programs can help remote employees gain new skills, improve performance and experience. Offering training programmes would benefit organisations in retaining its talent and equipping them with the necessary skills required to help the company remain competitive.
In conclusion, navigating a remote-first world requires a combination of technology, communication, and work-life balance. By following these best practices, you can smoothly transition and create a productive and thriving remote-first workplace. Establish clear communication protocols, set expectations and goals, foster a sense of community and connection, prioritize work-life balance, and celebrate wins to build a healthy and productive remote work culture. Embrace flexibility, invest in technology and keep the team motivated, will keep the remote work workflows efficient and flexible. Instituting structures for continued team development and personal growth will help ensure that remote teams remain competitive, innovative and satisfied in their work, enhancing efficacy of the team as a whole.