We all knew that remote working was a fantastic perk to be able to use but now it has become an essential tool to enable us to soldier on through a pandemic lockdown and remain productive. Getting remote working to function reliably for all your offsite team isn’t easy though. So what areas do you need to look into in order to provide a productive remote working environment for your staff?
Business Information On The Cloud
Remote working is much easier if your core business systems are cloud based. This just means that you hold data or use software that is provided by, secured and maintained by a third party on the cloud, this is often called SAAS (Software As A Service). So for example, rather than install Sage Accounting on your own hard drives or servers (where you have to secure the data, maintain backups and update software) you can use Sage’s cloud service where the software and your data lives on Sages servers. You and your team just login online and voila – off you go. In the same way you can use cloud services for most if not all of your businesses systems and data.
With all those members of staff trying to work on different devices than normal, on different networks, with different printers and using different software there are going to be IT issues – lots of them. There are plenty of reasons people could struggle to work remotely; out of date browsers, broken hardware, missing software licences, slow broadband speeds or out of date routers. Your team is going to need IT support that can be provided to them in their homes.
If you have a small IT team it probably isn’t going to be practical for them to provide 24/7 IT support to people in multiple remote locations. In this case you should look at contracting a specialist external provider who can efficiently provide you with 24/7 IT support. Large companies can man the phones all day and all night and their economy of scale means they give your team access to people who are real experts in every area of IT hardware and software.
100% remote working will change the way people perform. Some will excel with reduced distractions and the ability to work at a time that suits them. Others will struggle to motivate themselves to get the job done. You and your managers will need to develop a clear way to assign, delegate and monitor tasks. You will need to make sure you communicate clearly and do so in a way that each member of staff will pay attention to. Just because you love emails doesn’t mean your team does – you might be better calling certain people to check in and assess progress and vice versa. Taking this a step further you can employ the services of an executive coaching consultant who can provide ‘remote training’ to get the most out of your team.
Collaboration and Virtual Meetings
You will still need to hold some meetings. In order to do this, you will all need to use the same piece of technology be it Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom or a conference call service. Find out what your team has access to and work out what you need to be able to do, try a few tests and then clearly communicate how your team should access and use the technology.
Conference call services are quite basic and often just provide a high-quality voice call option. Skype is easy to use and you can video call as well as message and send documents so this is a good option for working meetings. However, if you want true collaboration with secure document management then you will want to get to grips with something like Microsoft Teams.
Don’t be tight, a few extra pounds spent on improving your teams at home WIFI quality or getting them a decent headset will be rewarded in increased productivity.
Remember that these virtual meetings are important for morale. Some of your team might be living alone and the opportunity to see their colleagues on screen and catch up will be enormously beneficial for their state of mind. Finding an excuse for a weekly meeting just so you can check on everyone’s well being is not the worst idea!