Even before COVID-19 took the world by storm, giving everyone a “new normal,” remote work was already on the rise. Prior to the global pandemic a study by Upwork from their Future Workplace Report found that 5x the number of hiring managers expect more of their team to work remotely in the next 10-years. Now, given the new state of the world, every company that can has been forced to rapidly adopt remote work as a means to continue business operations while slowing the spread of the virus. More remote work means more remote workforce management, and if a company is used to a traditional office environment, embracing and understanding remote workforce management can be a challenge. Poor technology, management, and policies can make or break your transition to remote work. Here, we’ll discuss 5 critical tips to effectively manage your team while working remotely.
1. Evaluate Support Systems and Fully Integrate Software Tools
Many organizations discover their systems and tools are not well-integrated once remote employees find bottlenecks while working offsite. A remote workforce introduces different work patterns and systems usage. In a 2019 study The Workplace Revolution conducted by Regus, 86% of remote worker respondents remain connected via instant messaging apps, and 65% are on video calls at least once a week. Remote workers are often the ones who may uncover poorly integrated systems and processes that hamper employee productivity. This can be in the form of accessibility issues due to bandwidth of the VPN, usability issues with applications that don’t function well outside the firewall, or simply ineffective collaboration software tools.
Typically remote employees will set up their home office system, including downloading the standard business applications they use, and discover that these apps are painfully slow to load, sometimes don’t work at all or they need additional permissions access which slows productivity to a crawl. More often than not, remote employees will use more cloud applications that are unsupported by the organization in an effort to simply get their work done.
Tools exist that help discover where there are inefficient systems and processes. ActivTrak, for example, can provide user data insights to help locate where employees are getting stuck and how they can resolve bottlenecks to get work done. For example, you can identify which company applications are actually being used, which are restricting workflows and which can be eliminated to streamline operations and reduce license costs.
2. Modify Operational Policies to Include Remote Work Considerations
Many organizations have informal remote working policies and standard communication vehicles are used with no adjustments to suit off-site workers. In the 2019 Telecommuting statistics by Owl Labs, the biggest challenges remote workers face during hybrid meetings are interruptions and being talked over (67%) and IT issues during meetings (59%). A common complaint made by remote workers who use Go-To-Meeing, WebEx, Zoom, etc. is the prevalence of in-room “side-bar” conversations happening, making it difficult to hear decipher or interpret important pieces of information that is shared.
Another area is a slow transition to digitizing paperwork and centralizing communications. This issue is tricky as it often requires new software and workflow process implementations that may not have previously existed. Utilizing communication and project collaboration platforms like Slack, Jira and Github can help modernize processes in a remote-friendly way and encourage employees to be more flexible in the way they work with both on-site and off-site colleagues.
An effective way to learn what operational processes cause bottlenecks is to test them with remote employees. Some of this can come from direct communication with employees, but another vehicle to try is User Activity Behavior Analytics. Tools like ActivTrak can help provide digital insights that help you easily understand employee workflows and identify what’s working and not working for your remote team members. Leveraging this activity and productivity data will help you identify key areas of your operational policies that need to be adjusted to account for remote workers…