Remote working has been the solution of countless companies to the ever-present problem of burnout. Companies that don’t offer remote working options have had to deal with resignations en masse as a result of their unwillingness to evolve — but you don’t have to.
If you want to adapt to remote working trends before you lose your skilled employees then you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to teach you everything there is to know about organizing remote teams in this article. Let’s get right into it.
Twitter and Ctrip: companies that adopted remote work
There are countless companies with remote employees, and their sizes can vary greatly. This section is going to focus on two in particular: one that you’re already very familiar with and another that you’ve probably never heard of.
We’re going to compare approaches, gauge their respective results, and see what insights we can get from their experience. Let’s start off with the multibillion-dollar tech company that played a big role in revolutionizing the social media landscape.
Twitter, indisputably one of the largest tech companies in the world, not only went remote but even eased the transition for employees. Rather than buying equipment for employees, however, Twitter decided to let them handle the setup process themselves.
How does this ease the transition, you ask? Well, Twitter reimbursed employees for the costs they incurred during the home office setup. The cashback policy covers everything from desks, ergonomic chairs, printers, and other home office equipment that their employees may need.
Even any online fees that their employees may incur from video conferencing services, data consumption, or project management software will be covered by the company. Twitter is a shining example of how to make a remote transition as easy as possible for employees.
Back in 2016, a Chinese travel agency that employs 16,000 people wanted to explore the feasibility of a remote working system to see if it could reduce overhead costs and/or increase productivity amongst their staff.
They started by assigning small groups from their call center department to a home-based arrangement. The early results were quite promising since there was a drop in resignation rates, better overall performance, and even an improvement in morale based on employee feedback.
The agency also ended up saving $1,000 for each worker that went remote since they were able to free up office space that the employee would’ve otherwise occupied. Ctrip eventually rolled out the policy to the entire agency since the preliminary results were so positive.
However, once they did, an influx of complaints rolled in from employees. What’s noteworthy is that the vast majority of the complaints were about a single thing: loneliness. The loneliness also led to a drop in productivity. Read on to see how to counteract both issues.
Key performance indicators
One of the trickiest parts of remote teams management is keeping them accountable for their performance. After all, it’s tempting for many remote workers to slack off since their boss won’t really know.
Fortunately, there is a workaround to this issue. If you define key performance indicators — or KPIs — for each remote team then they’ll retain their drive since you can actively gauge how well they’ve been doing over the past few weeks, months, or even years.
While it’s more than possible to utilize KPIs to track long-term performance, we’d recommend that you utilize them to gauge the short-term productivity of your remote teams. The ideal period lies at two to four weeks depending on what type of department the team falls under.
If you’re monitoring a marketing team then measuring performance on a month-to-month basis is fairer since it takes time to organize campaigns and some advertising mediums may not show immediate results.
On the other hand, sales representatives generally don’t take more than a week to go from prospect to close so if their numbers have been dipping in the past 14 days then that indicates a performance drop on the part of the team.
Beyond setting KPIs, you can also use roadmaps to help teams stay on the right track even if they’re working remotely. When you’re in an office setting, it can be easy to call employees into a meeting whenever you feel like it.
This means that you can relay goals clearly and revise targets whenever needed. Most remote teams don’t have this luxury. While there are countless online conferencing solutions out there, none of them get you the same level of clarity as office meetings.
To offset this difficulty that most remote teams face, you should set up a roadmap that outlines all the targets that need to be hit over the next month, quarter, or year. Roadmaps are essentially a to-do list that goes into more detail and covers a longer period of time.
Try to be as specific and transparent as possible when crafting the roadmap for remote employees. Any vagueness in the goals can hinder performance by a significant margin. Lastly, we’d suggest getting feedback from the remote workers in order to optimize the roadmap.
Let’s face it, remote workers aren’t going to be as productive at home as they potentially could be if they’re in poor health. You might think that remote workers should be healthier than those who spend all their time in the office since they have more flexibility to go to the gym.
Sadly, this isn’t the case. Despite having the “freedom” to get a solid workout in each day or sleep a full eight hours every night, remote workers usually suffer from health problems due to pulling all-nighters or procrastinating then cramming their tasks — which is mentally unhealthy.
If you want your remote workers to be physically and emotionally healthy then you need to promote healthy heart habits such as regular exercise and good nutrition. Cardiovascular disease is a prominent risk for those who work at home, so take the initiative to protect your employees.
Many companies are reluctant to adopt remote working arrangements since they’re worried it will impede the free flow of collaboration that you see in office setups. To some extent, they’re actually right.
It’s no secret that some remote teams collaborate far less frequently than their in-house counterparts. Like most obstacles that remote teams encounter, however, there’s always a solution.
One of the best ways to encourage teamwork in your remote teams is to make everyone feel like they’re part of something greater. We know that sounds a bit cliché but it’s true. Even something as simple as saying hi every morning in the team chat can help.
Speaking of the team chat, you should try to keep things positive on there as the online environment will directly impact the morale of your remote team. No one wants to spend time collaborating on a team chat full of Debbie Downers.
Daily meetings through an online conferencing solution will also establish a sense of solidarity in your online team. It doesn’t matter if the topic goes to company news, marketing plans, or even just how everyone’s day went — the important thing is that people get the chance to interact.
Finally, if you’re the one in charge of the remote team then share informative articles and TED Talks every week or give frequent feedback in a constructive, respectful way. This will not only portray authority but also motivate employees to constantly work on honing their skills.
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Any company with a remote team should ensure that they have the necessary tech tools to do their job right. This mainly means hardware but could also extend to software in some situations. Modern remote desktop programs can be especially useful when working online and from home. Even the mundane act of getting a laptop for your employees can make a big difference.
If your employees are working for you through a tablet rather than a laptop or desktop then you may want to consider providing Bluetooth keyboards. This is especially important for typing-intensive jobs such as writing or live chat customer service.
While not as essential as laptops or Bluetooth keyboards, noise-canceling headphones are also a handy gadget for any remote employee to have since they can help them stay focused even when they’re working out of hectic environments.
Moreover, for those struggling with remote work productivity, provide productivity apps and time tracking tools with timesheet system to keep track of their performance. Moreover, encourage communication among employees so that the experienced employees can share tips with juniors.
As you can see, organizing remote employees doesn’t have to be a nightmare or uphill battle if you utilize some of the tried-and-tested strategies that we’ve outlined above. Remote teams can be just as productive and collaborative as their in-house counterparts if you run them right.
Whether you’re a social media goliath or travel agency, the challenges remain mostly the same for employees who go remote. When you cover the needs of your staff, they’ll be just as productive from home as they would be in the office — if not more.