Asking for the opportunity to work remotely, even for one day, was unimaginable for many employees at the beginning of this year. Managers would have assumed these employees were really asking for paid time off to do something besides work. Aside from sick and vacation days, many companies have expected employees to be in the office from 9-5 every day. The concept of telecommuting or working remotely is not new, but due to COVID-19, our perception of it is.
A Global Attitude Shift
The general attitude toward remote work has shifted as companies have discovered their employees can be productive, virtually collaborate, and maintain day-to-day operations all from home. This is a big step, especially for companies that have been previously resistant to change. The pandemic has normalized remote work, so much so that companies like Twitter and Square plan to make the work-from-home model permanent.
Some people are more productive than ever in a remote work environment. Others are itching to get back to a shared workspace because they miss the sense of community and connection. Both now and in the future, a hybrid work model is probable. In the short-term, companies might have employees return in increments or arrange a staggered work schedule to avoid congestion. In the long-term, many companies will give employees the freedom to fashion their own work environment. Employees will have the option to work from home, work in the office, or some combination of the two.
Now is the time to plan for the inevitable return to work and prioritize the employee experience. Here are two things to consider along the way:
1. The Meeting After the Meeting
It’s been said that the real meeting happens after the meeting. People talk in the hallway walking back to their desks and make a decision, unintentionally leaving people out of the loop. This is subconscious, and it’s natural to carry on the conversation after the meeting ends. The problem is when decisions are made or changed without people knowing. It’s an even bigger challenge when you’re managing in-office and remote teams.
People dialed in are at a disadvantage because they can be tuned out and miss conversations that happen after the meeting. Without video chat, facial expressions and body language and other nonverbal cues are undetectable. The larger the group, the bigger issue this becomes.
In light of the shift to remote work, companies need to make sure everything (ideas, decisions, changes) happens in the meeting. Remote teams need to be included in all pertinent communication. Meetings should be organized and clearly defined—that means a plan, expected output, and follow-up. Everything should be documented and sent to everyone. Remote employees should be notified of any conversations or decisions made after the fact.
2. Reevaluating Your Tools
Believe it or not, genuine collaboration doesn’t solely stem from physical interaction. Remote teams can collaborate just as effectively with the right tools.
Maybe you’ve been using the same platforms and systems for a long time. Now that you’re working remotely, are those tools still working for your team? If not, it’s time for a refresh. Whether you’re stuck in the dark ages or your tools simply don’t transfer well in a remote setting, your employees deserve a toolkit that works.
Can your employees easily navigate your existing file sharing tool? What about your ticketing system or automated chatbot? Some companies have been using the same platforms for years even though they add to the burden they’re designed to relieve. At the same time, the latest and greatest technology isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.
Now is a great time to reevaluate your tools. Ditch what doesn’t work, keep what does, and don’t be afraid to test new things out. Make sure your tools serve your remote teams and in-office teams to optimize collaboration and improve communication.
Have questions about business tools of any sort? Looking to update your toolkit but aren’t sure where to start? Feel free to reach out to our team at email@example.com. We’re happy to help you sort through the options at no charge.