RNI, the Remote Nation Institute, is holding a series of half-hour webinars to help you help your employees work remotely, efficiently, and happily. As part of these learnings, we offer tips, based on years of remote work experience.
Every day, we’ll give you one concrete action you can take with your team to keep your people focused and on task.
Sophaya’s Tip of the Day
When an employee leaves an office to work remotely because of an emergency workplace shutdown, they feel disoriented. For folks used to traditional office work, it can be challenging because they may not have the remote work skills or the technical infrastructure to complete their jobs from home. Get them calmed down, refocused, and hooked into a new routine quickly. As a team leader, it’s up to you to get the ball rolling.
Assess the situation
Consider what’s normal for your people. Are they usually physically together in one place? Have any of them ever worked from home? Worked while traveling? Worked in remote teams? Do they currently have equipment – laptops, cell phones, etc. that allow them to access work systems and each other? This assessment is important. It’s an unusual time and there’s no time to plan. You must work with what you have.
Keep it simple: Leverage what you’ve got
This is not the time to rollout lots of new stuff. Think about the resources the company is familiar with and already owns. They could be conference lines for group audio calls, cell phones, or email people can access remotely. Pull together a team distribution list of email addresses, cell phone numbers, etc. If you have access to a video conferencing service, great! Log in and start using the tool now.
Deputize a small, trusted group to help
Depending on the size of your team and how connected they are electronically, you are going to need help to keep everyone informed and engaged. Pull together a few of your best team members. Choose folks who are calm and well respected. Remote work experience or natural skills like self-discipline, self-direction, problem-solving and communication skills are pluses.
Set the tone and get these folks on board first. This includes helping them understand their roles as deputized team communicators. Their job is to answers individual questions, be available for people who need help, clarify information shared at team meetings, contact people when things change, and alert you about what’s up with the team members so you can address those issues at future team meetings.
Schedule remote team meetings to keep everyone informed
Group meetings allow you to share information with your entire team. If you can use video, do it. It’s nice to see your employees and for them to see you. Record these meetings when possible so you can share them with anyone who is unable to join. If you are already a Microsoft 360 user, use Teams. If not, try Zoom or JoinMe. These tools let you create the meeting and then provide your people with a meeting link. It’s an easy way to ease your people painlessly into video conferencing. These video platforms will also let you record video messages and email them to team members when you need to get a message out fast. Always give your deputies a heads up before you send messages to all team members, so they have the information they need to answer questions. This helps you and your deputies demonstrate unity and collaboration.
Full Team Meeting Objectives:
- Assure the team they can get through this if they stick together and help each other.
- Explain the role of the deputies – announce them by name and review their roles.
- Be honest with people about what you know and what you don’t.
- Set priorities and have people focus on what’s important and possible at this time.
Use all your channels to keep folks informed, but don’t overwhelm them
There are lots of channels available to remote teams and it’s easy to assume more is better. It’s not. Too much information can be worse than too little if it’s presented in a disorganized way. It’s better to set up a schedule, choose the method/channel for message delivery, then stick to it as consistently as possible so everyone knows what to expect and can build the routine into their schedules.
- Daily huddles, scrum meetings, and daily briefings are quick check-ins to direct priorities, or tasks before the day begins or to relay up-to-date information in a rapidly changing situation.
- Weekly team meetings or project status update meetings scheduled for the same day and time each week give team members time to prepare.
- Individual one-on-ones enable a team leader to assess an individual’s concerns and state of mind.
- Smaller team meetings allow you to meet directly with team members or with your deputies, who will relay information to their teams.
What’s important here is having a controlled plan that allows for consistent, up-to-date messaging and the free flow of information in all directions. You might have to break with protocols occasionally during a crisis. If this is the case, reassess your plan and consider adding another daily briefing temporarily until things settle down and return to normal.
To learn more about managing a remote workforce, join us for our RNI Remote Work Series: You sent them home to work remotely, NOW WHAT?