Let’s focus on one fact first: remote work can make your team more productive.
A Stanford study of 16,000 workers over nine months found that working from home can increase productivity by thirteen percent. In the study, the gains were attributed to a quieter, more convenient environment and fewer sick days taken. Most of us know from experience that the absence of commutes, impromptu water cooler conversations, and stress over tasks that aren’t getting done at home allows us to focus on our work. As millions of people leave their jobs in the wake of the pandemic, companies that offer a partial or fully remote work environment are at an advantage to hire talented workers.
Still, leaders need to understand that a remote work policy alone does not guarantee productivity. Leaders who don’t set clear expectations, don’t communicate in a predictable way, and don’t provide enough resources will set their employees up to fail, especially if the strategy is a mix of in-office and remote work.
No matter what’s happening in the world, now is the time for you to put choose a clear path forward. If your company is going fully or partially remote for the long haul, this is how to ensure your success.
Train and equip people for success.
Some companies have maintained the same number of employees for the past two years, working together to figure out their remote work life. Other companies are starting to hire fully remote employees who live all over the place. Whatever situation you’re in, it’s imperative that every team member has the knowledge and tools they need to be productive.
Every new employee should get a week (ideally more) of training not only for their role, but for the tools they’ll use. Make sure they’re familiar with the company’s communication platforms (Zoom, Teams, Slack, etc.) and provide a detailed list of the equipment they need and the budget you’re providing for it. If your company routinely holds video calls with clients, provide training for your employees to record high-quality videos.
Be consistent in your communication.
Consistency is a key to success in every area of life, and remote work is no exception. When they lack daily face-to-face interaction, your employees need to know how and when they can reach you and each other with mundane, high-impact, or urgent matters.
There are a number of platforms that have stolen the show during the pandemic, and it’s important that you pick ONE for each major type of communication you use. Zoom or Skype. Slack or Teams. There may be debate among your team about which platform each person likes better, but at the end of the day it’s your job as a leader to streamline communication and make sure that people aren’t overwhelmed and confused by the company using multiple platforms.
Similarly, it’s your job as the leader to set communication standards. Should everyone be available between the hours of nine and five? Do you expect employees to answer their emails outside of work hours? (Our suggestion, don’t.) Though remote work makes it easy to run errands and still be productive, set the standard that your team communicates when they’ll be unavailable for hours at a time. It’s as simple as saying, “I’m headed to a doctor’s appointment, be back at 4!” as you leave the office.
Set expectations for results and emphasize trust.
One thing that will drive employees up the wall is a leader who micromanages their time, then proceeds to be unclear or unpredictable. If you’re used to managing by observing who is at their desk and dragging people into meetings when it suits you, remote work demands that you change how you define success for your employees and yourself.
Robert Glazer, author of How to Thrive in the Virtual Workplace, said on The ONE Thing podcast that leaders need to stop monitoring input (How many calls did you make? At what times?) and start monitoring output. (Did you hit your monthly goal of $10,000 in sales?) When you set clear expectations for the results your employees should achieve and assume best intent, you’ll see them hit their marks without you breathing over their shoulder. It’s freedom and flexibility for everyone involved.
What does success look like?
The most important question to ask yourself when your company pivots to remote work is how you’re going to define success without the metric of bodies in chairs on a daily basis. If you’re struggling to articulate the goals that matter most to your business, let alone the steps you need to take to reach them, we can help.
Reach out to The ONE Thing and we’ll build a strategy for your team to break down annual goals into simple steps, time block their calendars to prioritize high-impact tasks, and invest both their personal and professional time in what matters most.
Clarify your strategy, align your goals, and execute your plans flawlessly with The ONE Thing.