Remote work has quickly become a critical requirement for organizations around the globe. As employee demographics shift in favor of younger generations and the war for talent forces organizations to extend their recruitment efforts in new directions, distributed teams have become the new normal. Organizations must adopt a core set of remote work best practices to achieve the benefits a work-from-anywhere strategy can deliver.
According to a recent State of Remote Work survey, remote workers say they are 29% happier in their jobs than on-site workers. When these professionals were asked why they decided to work from home, respondents said they had better work-life balance, were able to be more productive, and they could avoid commuting.
Interestingly, remote workers tend to work more hours during the work week, as opposed to in-office workers who tend to adhere to a traditional work schedule. That said, remote workers do so because they enjoy what they do and they get to take advantage of all the lifestyle benefits associated with working from home.
When looking at the challenges of working remotely from home, schedule management bubbles up to the top of the list. Whether it’s making time to chit-chat and bond with distributed team members, attend a critical project planning meeting, or avoid distractions around the house, the most productive remote workers set a schedule, stick to it, and know when to wrap up for the evening.
Managing remote teams is undeniably about trust. Managers need to trust that their remote employees are able to navigate everyday distractions and get their job done, whatever that may require. Realistically, this is easier said than done. Managers must reframe their management approach toward outputs rather than tracking individual activities, because of the loss of line-of-sight into everyday tasks. One way that managers optimize for outcomes is by setting up remote work communication protocols to help build the foundation for a trusted relationship.
When managing a remote team, it’s important for managers to schedule a series of meetings to simulate in-person interactions, such as one-on-one check-ins, water-cooler chats, and team meetings. One-on-ones should focus on goal setting, strategies for navigating the organization, and career development. Informal water-cooler chats should be scheduled periodically for the team to bond virtually. Team meetings should be scheduled during regular business hours for all attendees if possible and driven by an agenda that offers everyone a chance to participate.
Ultimately, successful remote teams stay connected to each other and have a clear understanding of how their work is impacting the organization. When managers of remote workers are able to build a communication framework that promotes responsiveness, transparency, and honesty, employees will be able to perform at impressively high levels.
IT administrators have responsibility not just for helping to select the tools employees will use both on-site and remotely, but they are also critical change agents in driving adoption of new technology. When it comes to enabling successful remote working, IT admins must ensure that their collaboration stack meets end user requirements and delivers a satisfactory experience for everyone, regardless of how and where they work. Specifically, admins will want to explore interoperability limitations or bandwidth requirements that could potentially slow down remote workers from collaborating with their team.
Once tools are identified, IT must deliver a complete training program to ensure that individual contributors and managers have a clear understanding of how best to utilize the tools at their disposal. If an organization invests in a video conferencing solution and employees continue to treat it as a conference bridge, then the ROI will never manifest itself. IT should conduct live trainings, build out a suite of online resources, recognize internal champions across the organization, and do its best to drive a top-down/bottom-up change management program.
IT admins will need to monitor adoption by tracking tool utilization and keeping tabs on support tickets and quality issues. They will need a dedicated solution for evaluating whether their remote work toolkit is having the intended consequences on driving productivity for the organization. When workers are at home, they deal with very different network conditions than when they are in the office. These employees may be quick to judge the application they are using instead of their network conditions, therefore IT admins must identify these individuals before they disparage the tools and implement shadow IT solutions.
These tools will help all of your remote workers get up to speed quickly with best practices for successfully connecting and hosting BlueJeans meetings.
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