Are you planning to transition your traditional workforce to a distributed remote team due to the Global Pandemic COVID-19? As an organization that has been distributed from day one, and has staff operating across eight different time zones, we thought we’d share some strategic initiatives to help you get started on your transition.
The below steps are outlined to assist your executive and HR teams in the transition to being an effective remote workforce.
Best working from home practices for organizations, team leaders and employees can be found here.
1. Evaluate Operational Efficiency for Maximum Team Output.
How you previously operated in-office may not be relevant or efficient to your work as a remote team. To ensure processes are agile during a transition to remote work, you will need to evaluate operational, or functional maturity.
The process of highlighting operational weak spots and cross-functional friction will surface opportunities for improvement to ensure your business is not negatively impacted. Gaps in processes, or duplicated responsibilities within organizational processes, cause huge issues across modern teams.
In order to evaluate your organization's functional maturity, you will need to focus on processes that your team owns or participates in heavily, as they will have the biggest impact. Good questions to ask are:
- Are there processes or activities that are unnecessarily duplicative?
- Do you have embedded functions within siloed teams? Are there manners to centralize those business functions?
- What business functions and processes would benefit from simplification?
- Read: 4 steps to evaluating operational efficiency and effectiveness here
2. Establish Your Remote Software Platforms
3. Create Digital Workspaces
Create a dedicated virtual community for your people, and individual teams. A lot of organizations will already have tools such as Slack set up for instant communication, which can easily be utilized for remote work. If you don’t have virtual communication channels set up, evaluate the benefits of using Slack, or research alternatives that may suit your organization.
Pro Tip: Set up a handful of daily rituals like checking in and sharing blockers, but also make sure you include announcements, celebrations, employee recognition and knowledge sharing. Each team, pod, squad, and large projects should have their own communication channel to reduce the noise for other employees.
4. Set Remote Work Schedules.
Strategically, you will need to set schedules for the whole organization, or let teams define it for themselves. Cross-reference your work policies and standard employment contracts to ensure you’re not breaching any of your own policies before you announce any changes or expectations.
5.Support Remote Workspaces.
Consider providing a stipend to cover the cost of Wi-Fi and other home office expenses. Everyone on your team will have different needs for space and work environments. Not everyone will have a home office set up for remote working, and you may need to prepare some informative guidelines around healthy home office setups. Think ergonomics, natural light, work away from sleeping areas, etc.
You may find some team members will struggle with the lack of peer-to-peer interaction. If skeleton staff at an office is not an option for your organization, other alternatives include coworking spaces or coffee shop meetings.
6. Establish Expectations for Team Leads.
When working in close proximity in an office, it’s easy to have insight into what your team is working on. When you transition to working remotely, you will lose spatial proximity which makes it easy to do a quick face-to-face check-in. Your organization will need to make sure there is a process aligned to share and track responsibilities, and communication tactics for expectations around transparency and accountability of tasks (e.g. how should your team communicate progress upwards? Do you establish daily team meetings?). These expectations will need to be easily understood and accessible online for quick reference.
7. Establish Expectations for All Staff.
Having every team understand their mission and accountabilities is great, but when you transition to a remote workforce, it is important for all employees to clearly understand their responsibilities and how they fit in the team. Most organizations will use traditional Job Descriptions (JD) and/or an Org chart to establish a shared understanding of who does what. However, Functionly understands that in most companies the common JD has never been updated or reviewed since the employee began. Therefore, we suggest having a conversation with each of your team members to be sure everyone has clear documented responsibilities. If you think managing people in the same room is challenging at times, going remote adds a whole new level. Remote working has a tendency to decrease clarity of understanding around each team member’s role and contribution to the team.
Select a provider. Google Hangouts, Zoom, etc.
Teach the technicals
There will be technical challenges for our staff. You need to give time, and plenty of guidance on how to get set up with tools and technology.
Teach (and model) the importance of consistency & etiquette
You need to create content and guides specific for your organization. This could include meeting etiquette like: all meeting attendees must be on camera, mute when not speaking, avoid background noise, make sure the meeting isn’t 100% business, or allocate time for catching up and chatting about non-work activities.
Set ground rules
After a few minutes of catching up, the meeting leader should set ground rules about what the format will be, when to speak, and how to contribute, so people don’t try to talk over each other, and everyone will have a chance to contribute.
A lot of virtual meetings could be recorded and shared with other team members if you wanted to make the content all available afterwards.
9.Bring Team Together for an Onsite/Internal Conference.
If you end up making the permanent switch to a remote workforce, you will need to think about bringing your people together. Consider an all team conference at least every 12 months, or even more frequently to ensure your teams stay connected and aligned to your organization’s vision and strategic initiatives.