There is not one business that hasn’t been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some businesses were required to stop completely, while most started operating virtually in lieu of face-to-face meeting. While we’re certainly not 100% out of the woods just yet, businesses are starting to pick up again and move from a “recovery” mode into a state of “renewal.”
While your business may not always plan to be fully virtual, my guess is this experience has changed the way you view the possibilities of business operation. Perhaps it makes sense to continue on only virtual, maybe it will be hybrid with just a portion of your teamworking remote. Every situation is different, but one thing remains: the idea of virtual working expands the possibilities for your business, the trick is handling it in the right way.
Why consider a virtual team strategy?
The internet and new team collaboration technology has been the game-changer for virtual teams:
Spread your reach to essentially anywhere
Explore new avenues of growth
Recruit the best talent, regardless of physical location
Curate a diversified workforce
For many leaders, the only obstacle to embracing a virtual team is the perceived difficulty of managing one. There's a fear that without a being physically present in an office everyone will feel disconnected and there’s no way to maintain productivity. These thoughts aren’t completely unfounded, if you don’t have the right tools and process in place.
Tip #1: Implement process
Even while in the office, your business needs process to run efficiently. With people working from home, it’s best to have a documented standard way of working that you’re constantly refining.
Tip #2: Allow a degree of flexibility, while keeping some consistency
People working from home will rightfully want flexibility with their work hours – it's important to allow this but to also be clear about certain expectations. If things are too erratic it will be difficult to continuously be collaborating daily.
Tip #3: Track work output
Regardless of working remote or in office, you should be measuring your team’s work productivity in some capacity. Identify the key indicators for success for each job and continue talking about them on a regular basis.
Tip #4: Conduct quarterly check-ins
When working remote, there is a possibility team members can start to feel alone or disconnected; this type of work style is not for everyone. Most people enjoy the freedom that comes with working from home, but it’s important to check in from time to time.
Tip #5: Overcompensate for no casual office chatter
Without being in an office, people do lose out on the informal conversations that happen between peers just by being in the same building together. In a virtual environment, you need to go out of your way to create opportunities for team members to “just chat.”
Tip #6: Take advantage of your technology
Collaboration technology has come a long way – be sure you are taking advantage of all features including:
Screen sharing tools
Instant chat tools
Shared access to the same documents
Tip #7: Don’t lose sight of the company culture
Just because you are working remote doesn’t mean you need to lose your organization’s identity and mission. Treat your employees the same as you would in person, just tailored to fit the virtual environment.
As you and your leadership team think through virtual working options, you’ll find there’s no one-size-fits-all option. Your decision will be based on all sorts of considerations—ultimately you’ll want to find an option that can reduce overhead, while maintaining customer service and employee productivity.