For most people, in recent years and especially the last few months, the way that they work has changed. Remote work has rapidly been adopted by many organizations, and is an essential part of keeping businesses going in the current climate.
For most people, in recent years and especially the last few months, the way that they work has changed. Remote work has rapidly been adopted by many organizations, and is an essential part of keeping businesses going in the current climate. Pandemics aside, remote working has been on the rise for many years: according to research, the number of people who work remotely at least once a week has grown by 400% since 2010.
It also seems likely that, for many businesses, remote working will continue to be the new normal beyond our current situation. Companies are seeing the benefits of a more flexible work model that can benefit both employees and employers, with fewer commutes and business trips, and greater flexibility in dealing with unexpected events in the future.
However, remote working is not without its challenges, and can be difficult to adapt to for employees having to adjust to a new working environment, as well as managers who may be unsure how to adequately support and oversee their team’s work despite their distance. These challenges can make consistency difficult to achieve across dispersed teams.
It’s important to promote consistency to ensure a smooth working process, particularly when teams are dispersed, as consistency can help in assessing progress across teams, estimating deadlines more accurately, training new staff, easing any frustrations or stressors, and in boosting team morale and productivity.
With that in mind, we’ve pulled together some top tips for how managers can promote employee consistency even when their team members are working remotely and spread across multiple locations.
Communicate Frequently and Clearly With Your Team
Regular communication is vital to successful management, allowing for greater consistency across teams. Ensuring relevant information is available and easily accessible to all team members makes it easier for them to complete tasks and ensures consistency across the board. A lack of open communications may in turn make it much harder for tasks to be completed on schedule and create confusion or frustration.
Video calling is a great tool, and one you are probably already using. Using the video function as much as possible helps maintain engagement as the whole team can be ‘together’ and help create open communication. Regular short morning check-ins are a good way to update the team on any changes and assess each team member’s workload that day, in combination with regular weekly meetings.
Brief but frequent communication like this, whether it happens on calls or over messages, can help smooth the working process and ensure consistency across the board. It can also make tracking performance easier, which has a doubly positive effect of ensuring work progresses as intended and motivating employees by demonstrating that meaningful work is being done.
Give Regular Positive Feedback
Remote working can be stressful, especially now when many teams who have not operated like this are being forced to adapt quickly. While in physical workspaces it is easy to give on-the-spot feedback, it’s sometimes not as easy when working remotely. Regular feedback can help ensure that small pieces of work are corrected on a regular basis, thereby avoiding major setbacks or corrections down the line. This can help ensure better consistency, allowing everyone to stay in sync as much as possible despite physical distance.
Positive feedback in particular has a great effect, allowing for a boost in morale as well as reassurance that each person’s work is being valued. In times like these, positivity is needed more than ever, and can also help soothe frustrations.
There are many ways to recognize good work remotely; for example, managers could include any congratulatory remarks in their brief daily meetings, providing an opportunity for colleagues to acknowledge and support good work, and even encourage peer-to-peer shout outs. Even simple messages throughout the day can help direct employees and acknowledge work done well.
Expand or Adapt Your Availability
As well as through formal meetings, it is important for managers and their teams to feel like they can speak about more minor issues or problems. When little things are unsaid or left behind in favor of the bigger issues, these small problems can become much more serious later on. One solution to this can be holding virtual ‘office hours’ at scheduled times suited for each team.
During these times, managers can make themselves available for any of their team to come forward with small problems that can be addressed very briefly rather than in a dedicated meeting, even if there’s no solution yet. Creating this sort of schedule can help improve overall consistency by retaining the feeling of an office, where someone might quickly ask their manager about a small issue or task, while helping avoid turning minor friction points into larger issues.
A schedule is vital for this system to work for everyone, to avoid frustration from either managers feeling overburdened or employees adapting to new work systems. Being forthcoming about when managers are available and setting boundaries can help this, easing the pressure on managers and setting clear guidelines for employees.
Boost Employee Morale and Motivation
It can be very difficult to build connections within teams when they aren’t physically together, but it is an important factor in maintaining motivation and creating progress, particularly in stressful times and for employees used to a social workplace. While this might not be applicable to all workplaces, there are a number of ways to keep remote teams connected.
Potential activities might include:
- Online games that include a multiplayer element can encourage friendly competition.
- Virtual group coffee breaks, to provide a pause and a brief casual moment in the working day.
- Virtual social evenings, through Friday night drinks or online quizzes that several teams can take part in.
The challenges of managing dispersed teams can be overcome, allowing teams to continue consistently producing great work. The tips above, such as adapting how teams communicate with each other and encouraging and boosting morale, are some of the ways we can overcome these difficulties.
With many organizations considering what their new normal might look like, and how big a role remote work might play in that, figuring out effective ways to work remotely is an important part of business success in the future.