Making Remote Working Work

March 31, 2020 | 3 minute read
Jason Richmond
Chief Culture Officer and Founder at Ideal Outcomes
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The following is a post from Jason Richmond, President/CEO and Chief Culture Officer for Ideal Outcomes, Inc., a company that has developed remote learning programs for companies of all sizes. Additionally, Jason is the author of Culture Spark: 5 Steps to Ignite and Sustain Organizational Growth

A successful remote work program requires several ingredients for success. Discover some of our tips and see how you can use them for your organization:   

The Right Tools

The foremost challenge is getting technology in their hands. To ensure continuity, partner with your IT teams and make sure the right software is in place, from virtual private networking (VPN) to team collaboration tools like Zoom, Slack, and WebEx.  

Additionally, make sure your employees have the right security software on their machines. Maintaining data integrity and the privacy of critical business documents is less costly than dealing with a remote data breach. 

Build in Social Time

When workers are remote, we lose that impromptu chat in the break room or by the coffee pot. When naturally occurring socialization is lost, we need to purposely create it. Loneliness is a pervasive and growing problem according to SHRM, particularly with Generation Z (18- to 24-year-olds). 

Managers should set reminders on their calendars to call each team member at least once a week, just to touch base. After all, when you walk by someone’s cubicle or office, you usually take a few minutes to chat. With remote workers, such spontaneous interactions must be replaced with purposeful action. 

Creating a remote work strategy? Here are some quick tips.

Establish Structure

First, establish some structure. This is especially important if employees are working from home for the first time. Make sure employees know what the productivity expectations are by setting weekly and monthly goals together, and discuss progress at least biweekly. On these calls, make sure to have an agenda and allow for open discussion around projects, brainstorming, or for problem solving. Video conferencing tools like Zoom are helpful for face-to-face time rather than always using the phone. 

Finally, don’t micromanage and trust your employees to get their work done. If you have structured discussions each week, you will soon discover if they are struggling with working from home. Ask employees to write up a brief summary of each of these conversations, including accomplishments, next steps, commitments and deadlines. If your company uses Office 365, OneNote is a great tool to track these meetings. 

Keep the Team Together

One of the hardest things about working from home is that people tend to “miss” each other. Camaraderie is very important for morale and people need to feel part of something. 

If you used to have a weekly face to face team meeting, continue this process using a conference tool. Encourage participation by “going around the room” and calling on people to provide their thoughts and ideas. People who are naturally reticent in face-to-face meetings might be even more so on a call, so get everyone’s voice into the “room” at least once. Acknowledge and recognize accomplishments during these calls or brainstorm ideas and solve problems, just as you would if you were all in the same room.

Get Creative

If celebrating birthdays is a tradition, sing happy birthday. You may not be able to share an actual cake, so be creative. A virtual cake will make folks smile and remind people how much they care about each other. Hold a virtual potluck where people share recipes online and use their computer cameras to show the food they are eating. 

Set Boundaries

One of the dangers of working from home is not that employees get distracted and work less, but actually work more to their own detriment. Surveys have shown that 59 percent of workers have admitted that they checked in with their bosses or coworkers at least once a day while on vacation and 23 percent did so three times a day. When it comes to remote working, some may well similarly over-do it and you must make sure your staff understands your need for productivity in addition to having quality time for themselves.

Employees can be remarkably productive while working remotely and these tips can help set them up for success.

Looking for additional tips on working from home or business continuity? Stay tuned to this blog as we share more tips and tricks. 

Jason Richmond

Chief Culture Officer and Founder at Ideal Outcomes


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