In today’s day and age, the ability to work from home successfully is more important than ever. This can be especially daunting if you are now in the position to manage a team remotely that used to meet in-person. Here, we break down tips to help you navigate this new normal while keeping your team productive, motivated, and satisfied.
Perhaps one of the most helpful, important factors in the success of any business or accomplishment in life is the ability to communicate clearly with others. This is especially the case when workers cannot just walk down the hall to have a face-to-face chat whenever one is needed. As such, when it comes to remote working, it is vital to overcommunicate, while being careful not to cross the line into micro-management, with your team. To this end, make sure that they have varied avenues with which to reach you (phone, email, workflow channel, etc.), that the time frames for the best times to contact you are clear, and that you respond back to any inquiries in a reasonable window. If you make yourself easily reachable with these methods, you should have no problem being over communicative with your team— in a good way.
Make Sure Everyone Has the Tools They Need
The old saying, “you’re only as good as the tools you use,” could not be truer when you are tasked to manage a team remotely. But we’re not talking about a well-sharpened saw or sturdy hammer— we’re talking about call forwarding, voicemail, out-of-office messages, VM email, conference calling, web portal management, softphone, time-based management, and call recording, to name a few. Without setting up your team with the proper tools needed for good communication, you aren’t setting them up for success. For example, how frustrating is it when a voice mailbox is full and you can’t properly leave a message? Or someone doesn’t have an out-of-office message set up if they are not in for the day and you are waiting on a reply that doesn’t come? Without being in the same location, good communication tools are key. Do check out the wide range of communication tools we offer, which are integral to a successful remote business.
Provide Helpful Work-from-Home Tips
It can be tough to manage a team remotely especially if you used to meet in-person, but your entire team is now working remotely, it can be helpful to provide some basic work-from-home tips either by creating a dedicated resource list for your team, or perhaps addressing the items over time at team-wide check-in meetings. For those new to remote working, here are some easy tips to promote collaboration that are especially helpful to share:
Take Breaks- According to an Airtasker study reported on by Business News Daily, 37% of respondents reported that one of the best ways for remote workers to stay productive is to take breaks throughout the day. Grabbing a healthy snack, taking a bathroom break, going for a walk around the house, participating in a meditation session, or having a quick check-in with a friend are all great ways to recharge.
Follow a Schedule- Meanwhile, 33% of respondents of the Airtasker survey advocated for creating a schedule and sticking with it. It’s all about cultivating a routine at home, just like you would at the office. Think about your overall timeline such as when you begin your day when your snack and lunch breaks are when to do daily tasks, etc. The structure can really help your team focus, be more efficient, and not overlap work and personal time too much.
To this end, it is also important to stick to a consistent weekly meeting schedule. Ask yourself when you need to meet individually with certain employees, when are all-team meetings, etc. Then be sure to communicate this effectively with your team. Try using Apex BPX conference calls for seamless meeting communication on this front.
Keep a To-Do List- The Airtasker survey also indicates that 30% of respondents felt that keeping a to-do list is a helpful work-from-home tip that increases your efficiency. By having your team create daily to-do lists, as well as weekly ones, it can help everyone stay organised and on-task. Instead of jumping back and forth from assignment to assignment as you think of items, to-do lists help everyone visualize what needs to happen each day as well as over the course of the week. Not to mention, it is incredibly satisfying to see each item being systematically checked off of the list! Our VoIP System features can help you stay in touch regarding to-do list items so that everyone is on the same page.
Perhaps one of the trickiest parts of working remotely is the issue of work time and personal time bleeding together. According to the Airtasker study mentioned above, 29% of remote employees say they struggle with work-life balance. For both a manager and an employee, it can be hard to know when to call it quits on the workday. As for managing a team, the impulse to always be available for your team can be a strong one. On the employee end, they are often eager to want to “show” or “prove” they are working when they are supposed to be and putting in the necessary time. In this case, it is a great idea to set firm time frames to help put everyone at ease. For example, set the expectation that, after a certain hour of the night, you are not expected to answer any work-related emails. Additionally, the emphasis should be put on getting milestones done with quality work on time— not “proving” you are putting hours in just for the sake of working or clocking in.
Benefits of Working from Home
On a similar note, it is important to let your team truly enjoy the benefits of working from home. For example, being able to take part of their lunch break to go out to the grocery store, get exercise in, or run to a doctor’s appointment is a great work-from-home perk. Or, if some employees are morning birds vs. night owls, let them start their workdays at different times if those times work best for their own schedules and productivity levels. It’s totally fine to let employees enjoy these remote work benefits, so long as all necessary meetings are attended and work deadlines are hit. Your team will be much happier for it!
How we can help
The switch from collaboratively working in-person to manage a team remotely can be hard on both managers and workers. Apex BPX is an industry-leading VoIP telephone system that reduces costs while maintaining all the functionality that businesses need in order to communicate. Our VoIP solutions suit every kind of business. Our communication tools include call forwarding, voicemail, out-of-office messages, VM email, conference calls, web portal management, softphone, time-based management, and call recording.