Recently, the nation has undergone a shift—and a quick one at that—to many employees working remotely. Companies have scrambled to either put a remote work plan in place or test their previously untested plans. In February 2020, a Flexjobs survey reported that remote work has grown 159% over the last 12 years. Any guesses on how much it’s grown in the months since? It’s sure to be a massive number.
While remote work can absolutely save a workforce during a time of crisis, there are some sticking points to consider. For instance, it takes extra communication and extra consideration to make sure your tone and meaning are coming across via written (or even video) means. Having an IT department that can regulate and secure the remote systems is a must—providing upbeat assistance to those with various IT proficiency promotes productivity.
Employee engagement is an often-cited drawback to remote work, but there are great solutions to keep in touch and build collaboration. Regular weekly video chats and group meetings can offset feeling left out or being alone. A chat tool, like Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams, can be beneficial for quicker conversations that would take too long over email. To get introverts on board with the team conversations, you can even run small games that include everyone’s participation. And remember to put everyone attending a meeting on the same tool (video, etc.), even if they are in a place where they could gather. This equalizes the meeting and puts all participants on a level playing field.
Practice, practice, practice when changing tools. Allow your team to work multiple types of situations. Trade who leads the meetings during your sessions. Try doing a “happy hour” meeting to check on morale issues. I myself have issues with my own remote work. I get frustrated when my tools are incompatible with remote workers or customers or do not work fast enough. And I HATE to change them once I get them set—especially when I get upgrades without notice. When I do have to change them, I like to hold practice meetings to work out the kinks with my team, especially before we incorporate outside groups.
Most of all, I miss being around people and brainstorming ideas together. However, the more I practice remote work, the better leadership skills I acquire.
Lovey Hammel, President
I admit that when challenging times first surface, it’s not first instinct to do a happy dance. But when you take time to pause and add insight to injury, you will immediately start to feel empowered to make those majorly needed life shifts.
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