Over two decades ago, no one would have guessed that in order to work all you would ever need is a device, an internet connection and the will to deliver. Time zones are no longer relevant, distances no longer a hindrance for global teams, and differences no longer intolerable. That’s the power of remote work. Although Skuad’s foundation is laid on remote work, it wasn’t until the pandemic ousted us from offices that we started functioning 100% remotely.
In fact, most organisations were compelled to join the world of remote work when the pandemic hit the globe. And while distant collaborations and working as a global team are the norms for Skuad, it might not be the case for other companies. Therefore, it is only right we share what works for us in the sphere of remote workforce management and they might work for you too.
Service companies can deliver products more flexibly as compared to manufacturing companies. Which is why customers expect immediate improvements in service products.
As a talent and technology partner for our numerous clients, we constantly prepare ourselves to face ever growing challenges that may come our way. Skuad business leaders are here sharing their remote working tips. Find out how to rethink business strategies, build global teams, drive resilience and emerge from this crisis stronger than ever before.
Abruptly leaving the office premises has made us all contemplate about a defined organisational structure. In a remote setting, it becomes all the more necessary to define roles, deadlines, communication channels and reporting hierarchy. To have different global teams on the same page, prepare detailed remote work guidelines to include:
• The workings days and hours
• Code of conduct
• Schedule of meetings and tasks
• Office setup and equipment such as laptops, internet connectivity
• Allowances and reimbursements, etc
With remote work systems being launched impromptu, many organisations may have employees working on their private networks. Using various servers makes companies susceptible to data theft. While you enjoy all remote work benefits, remember to have a cybersecurity policy in place. In addition, ensure all employees are aware of its importance and restrictions, both professionally and personally. Tackle the risks of hacking by educating your employees on upgrading to strong passwords and enabling two-factor authentication wherever possible. Additionally, you can secure internet connections using VPNs, install firewalls, anti-virus, etc to introduce security into the workplace ecosystem.
Challenging times call for radical measures. Strategies that might have worked for your company may not be so efficient in a remote environment. If you want your company to stay afloat, think about redesigning your product or redefining your marketing strategy. Taking action will involve questions like what clients want to do with your product in the current scenario? Will they use your website to gather valuable information? Does your product/service enhance their everyday experience? It is imperative that you list down the aforementioned. How your product solves certain pain points and how relevant these solutions would be in the changed environment. Accordingly, there needs to be reallocation of duties, responsibilities and tasks.
The world is becoming digital for sure! Undoubtedly, we need to adopt the latest hardwares and softwares to cope with the changing times. But you must realize the importance of implementation post adoption. For smooth organisation functioning you must:
• Provide remote work training to employees on the use of certain softwares. It is important in an environment where one cannot just “walk up” to a coworker/ support team for help. Set up seminars in smaller groups to introduce and make employees comfortable with these new softwares.
• Be empathetic to levels of understanding. Everyone may not be very adept at picking up new technologies. Build a team of professionals who can be available throughout office hours to address queries.
People, place and pattern help boost remote work productivity. Employers are no longer interacting with employees in a limited space and time frame. They are entering their personal space and life and that is why employers should consider forming a synergy of various ecosystems such as home, office, child care, etc.
Remote working brings the flexibility of time and place. Encouraging your employees (especially full-time) to have a set workplace for continued efficiency and routine is a must. That being said, instilling a sense of normalcy by imitating office routines can help reduce impact on productivity and efficiency. If you can, set a budget aside to provide your employees with basic setup like table, chair, laptop. Providing guidance through interactive sessions, webinars on how to set up online tools, work desks or even providing clinical counselling helps in well-being. The idea is to introduce changes in phases, slowly and steadily. Try to avoid a stage where employees go into shock which may hamper productivity and overall growth.
Use of collaborative tools isn’t new to remote working as a lot of in-office and cross-team communication happen on specific channels. What’s new is the broader requirement of functions. For instance, earlier, you probably required a lower version/plan of a subscription that included just texting; now you might require a higher version that provides group calling and file sharing features as well. Depending on the number of employees, available features, cost to the company, ease of usage, etc., you can select a remote collaboration tool for your company.
You may use a mix and match approach to remote working tools such as combining Slack and Zoom, or may opt for a suite of applications, such as G Suite, Microsoft Teams, etc.
Physical constraint can lead to communication inconsistencies. Be it inter-project or organisation-level updates, a real time communication wherein tasks, deadlines and progress are communicated two-way as and when they take place is necessary to build employee relationships. Managing remote employees is easier when transparency is ensured & immediate feedback is provided to successfully deliver assignments.
Managing global teams virtually demands a collaborative vibe and ‘putting people first’ approach to reduce the disconnectivity faced when working from distance or remotely. It is a manager’s responsibility to organise remote team building activities so as to build trust and work in a way that leaves no employee behind. Communication is the key, both on a professional and personal level. It should be clear, precise, and within mutually established boundaries.
Remote working may be comfortable and preferred by many, but we think there is no replacement for the famous office parties and celebrations. The joy of welcoming a new team member, having lunch with them for the first time, and the solidarity that a farewell brings. After all, drunk-like dances and cryful singing help people intermingle during office events, something that gets missed out in a remote setting.
So, take the advantage of the diversity and ethnicity that your distributed team brings. Plan small celebrations every once in a while. Whether it is getting a cake delivered on someone’s birthday, a video call catch up with dumb charades session, or an online zumba and art workshop! Work culture affects mental well-being, so try to break through the monotony and keep your employees positive and cheerful.
COVID-19 has taught most organisations (including ours) a lesson. Moulding our business structure and making it equipped not just for short-term survival, but for long-term resilience. Hence organisations should come up with a continuity plan that works in two folds. First exploring new avenues and developing alternate channels that could be tapped as a possible business opportunity. And second is indulging with their operations and finance teams to maintain agility and mobility in business. At Skuad, we have tried to maintain it in ways like working on portable instruments like laptops over PC’s, preferring cloud based developments etc.
Post 2020, the key to effective business functionalities will not be in-office settings but strong remote ecosystems. And now that most businesses have remote working design in place, settling just for local full time talent can be an old-school approach. Organisations should now have a combination of local and global workforce (full time, part-time and freelancers). Like us, try to get anything and everything done by indulging with best in class talent. At Skuad, we have talent from across the globe which helps us deliver the best to our clients. So, if you are still looking for professional help to set up a remote office and build a global team, you can connect with Skuad experts.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” mantra to managing remote teams in these volatile times. However, a cohesive approach can help to establish clear priorities. A set of dedicated core teams can help keep global operations running smoothly. Clearly, while the working dynamics have changed, client expectations have not. So we need to have anything and everything in place to keep our business and workforce going!
Also Read: Layoffs: Turn Crisis Into Opportunities