With the escalating global COVID-19 crisis, employers are seeing unprecedented organizational challenges. From layoffs and job sharing to remote work and office shutdowns, employers are increasingly mandating remote work wherever possible. However, a lot of employers still have unanswered questions about the best way to take their teams remote.
We’re here to help! We are sharing responses to 4 commonly asked questions to help employers successfully transition their teams to remote work.
1. How can we maintain communication while working remotely?
Take advantage of the free messaging applications and platforms that are available. Provide easy-to-read resources on how to use these applications effectively including communication norms and expectations (i.e. which channel to use if something is urgent, fast, complicated, etc.). Adjust company policies to reflect your new communication standards.
If you don’t already have one in place, then try one of these user-friendly messaging applications:
A fun bonus with these messaging applications? You can personalize your communication to your culture with good-hearted gifs and unique emojis (because who doesn’t love that face palm emoji?!)
2. Our team has always collaborated face-to-face. How can we successfully collaborate while working remotely?
Collaboration doesn’t need to be face-to-face to be effective! There are many technical options that are readily available to support collaboration for remote teams. Plus, they are are quick and easy to implement:
- Microsoft OneDrive: This platform is great for file sharing and real-time editing on projects and documents. Tip: Make sure to institute a company-wide file naming system in place so documents and folders are easy to find and organize.
- Zoom or Telus Business Connect: These applications are great for multipurpose team communication, allowing you to screen share, video chat and make multi-line conference calls, Useful for internal purposes and with clients!
Try out different means of collaboration, pre-schedule group meetings, and see what works best for your team!
3. I trust my team, but what is best practice for project tracking, kick-offs and employee check-ins?
Consider these check-in strategies with your remote team for project and assignment visibility (and a feeling of connection):
- Daily Check-Ins: A morning check-in with your team doesn’t need to take any longer than 5 minutes, and can be as simple as everyone sharing their top 3 priorities for the day. This will keep you in touch with your team and ensure you remain aligned.
- Weekly Meeting: Set team expectations in a weekly meeting – we recommend Monday morning to kick off that weeks’ deliverables.
- Retrospective Meetings: End each week with a retrospective, sharing key highlights, lessons learned and wins from the week.
- Project & Assignment Updates: There are great time tracking and project tracking software available for you to use (free and paid options) to keep your team on scope and within budget while working remotely. Harvest is our software of choice and is very user-friendly!
- Virtual Happy Hour: Have everyone on your team make their favourite tea or pour their favourite drink for a virtual team happy hour to end the week (or the day #its5oclocksomewhere)!
4. Now that I have the tools in place to support my team, what communication norms should I consider?
Here are a few brief and straightforward best practices to follow regarding communication norms:
- Urgent communication: Simply put – just pick up the phone! If calling isn’t an option, revert to the messaging application that your team has chosen to use (Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype). Develop standards around how quickly team members are expected to get back to others.
- Detailed communication: A good rule of thumb – if it is going to take you longer to type it out than how long the action item will take your team member to complete, just give them a call! Detailed instructions are often better served through conversation.
- Instructional communication: Share instructions with a team member for a project or assignment through a useful and shareable guide in OneDrive or type a clear step-by-step email they can easily follow and refer back to (it doesn’t hurt to set up a quick conference call or screen-sharing video call through Telus Business Connect for any follow up questions they may have!)
- Team building communication: Host a team-wide video conference at least once per week to keep your team connected and feeling less isolated. Encourage individual teams and managers to connect regularly. Incorporate celebrations into each meeting and focus on the wins. Mental health can be impacted when teams who are used to working together begin working independently, so check in with your team often and encourage candid communication!
For more information on transitioning your team to remote work during the COVID-19 crisis, book a FREE 15-minute consultation with our team of HR specialists.