The worst of the pandemic appears to be behind us, however, small businesses and their employees are still adapting to a new normal. They are exploring and experimenting with new ways of working in teams.
Part of the process is redefining the role of the office in a remote friendly work environment. Some teams are transitioning back to the office full-time, while others are doubling down on being 100% remote. And, some are creating their own hybrid schedule, working some days in the office and others remote.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for any team considering remote work. The decision will depend largely on established workflows, individual personalities, management styles, and more. For those teams that do decide to transition to a hybrid or full-time remote work schedule, here are six tips based on our experience.
Move Infrastructure to the Cloud
Chances are the people working in your office will be reliant on some form of infrastructure. That could be a mail server, file server, development server, router, VPN, or phone system — to name just a few. There are cloud based equivalents that can replace just about any type of in-office infrastructure.
Retiring old hardware, moving data, and establishing new workflows is not an easy process. However, it’s well worth it. The immediate benefit is that it frees up your team to work remotely from anywhere. The long term benefit is the savings in money and time no longer spent to maintain aging infrastructure.
Encourage Social Chatter
Being at work doesn’t mean your team is always working. Conversations in the office hallway or snack room may not be work related, but they are work enabling. These impromptu moments of chatter create connections that are foundational for keeping teams productive, motivated, and engaged.
Be intentional and creative when replicating the social environment of the office. One option is to create a recurring video meeting that people can join daily at a preset hour to chat about movies, sports, or anything else not related to work. Another option is to create a Slack channel dedicated for such off-topic discussions. Then show up and be a part of the conversation.
Assist Your Team in Setting Up Their Remote Office
Not everyone on your team will have what they need to work remotely. Some might need a monitor, others a keyboard, or a more ergonomic chair. Find out what your team needs to work comfortably and efficiently outside the office and provide it for them. The budget for these purchases can come from the money saved by downsizing or ditching the office.
Providing a budget for these improvements and empowering your team to make their own purchasing decisions creates an environment of autonomy and ownership. It’s another simple way to boost and maintain morale during the transition to remote work.
Create Opportunities for Working Together In-person
As much as we can approximate the in-person work experience with video chat and screen sharing, remote work may leave your team feeling isolated from one another. It’s important to provide everyone who wants it the opportunity to work together in the same room. Plus, there are some high level tasks that can be completed more efficiently and effectively in person — such as brainstorming new product ideas or planning upcoming initiatives.
Creating these opportunities can be as simple as encouraging and paying for neighboring co-workers to pair up at a coffee shop once a week. Or, it can be a more formalized annual gathering where everyone flies in for a week of in-person work and team building.
Historically speaking, working in an office required a more established and continuous routine — a “9 to 5” workday during regular daytime hours. Remote work in a post-pandemic world has changed the relationship between individuals and their work. The workday will inevitably be interrupted by home life, so embrace it.
Allow your team flexibility in their workday — trips to the grocery store or dropping the kids off at school. Having the time to get personal stuff done during off peak hours is a huge benefit to remote workers. To encourage this, focus more on the quality of your team’s work and less on the number of hours spent at their computer.
Use Workflow Management Software
Managing work with post-it notes, whiteboards, and Excel spreadsheets simply won’t work for remote teams. You need to incorporate centralized workflow management software into your day-to-day operations. With features like project management, task management, and time tracking, online software will keep everyone on your team communicating and collaborating effectively. It will also give you invaluable insights into your projects, helping you deliver client work on time and under budget.
When it comes to selecting a workflow management platform, there are countless options to choose from. We recommend trying out our software, Intervals, which our remote team built and uses daily to manage our work. It’s workflow software with integrated time tracking and unparalleled reports and we promise it will improve the way you work.