Managing Remote Teams During the COVID-19 Pandemic

remote working tips

Are you worried about managing your business’ remote teams during the current coronavirus pandemic?

John Williams, Head of Marketing at Instant Offices, shares his advice on how to overcome the challenges of managing a remote team, and highlights the main pros and cons of remote working in the long-term…

Even before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, 2020 stats showed that the number of people working from home has grown by 140% since 2005, and telecommuting has increased by 115% in the past 10 years. Globally, 8% of employees work remotely on a full-time basis, while 52% work from home at least once a week.

A study conducted by Vodafone (involving 8,000 global employees and employers) also found that three-quarters of companies worldwide had already switched to flexible working options. 61% believed that it had increased the company’s profits and 83% reported a boost in productivity.

Additionally, numerous studies suggest that workers would choose flexible working over a pay rise, indicating that more people are interested in a better work-life balance and a schedule that fits their agenda.

Remote working trend to accelerate

The trend for remote working looks set to continue – and now more than ever. As coronavirus continues to spread around the world, more business owners are swapping rigid 9-5 schedules and traditional office environments in favour of remote WFH (work from home) set-ups.

At a daunting time for businesses and families, remote working is going to be essential to keep industries going, but also to ensure staff safety. As increased flexibility benefits both businesses and employees, and there’s plenty of data to back up the benefits of working remotely, work will likely continue even with the challenges ahead.

With planning, open lines of communication, and the right tech, there’s no reason why companies can’t run successful remote teams for short periods, or even integrate more into their future approach on a permanent basis.

Potential solutions to help small businesses manage their remote teams in the coming months include streamlining your work processes around team communication.

For many workers, faster and more reliable Wi-Fi and broadband, access to cloud systems and team collaboration tools mean ‘the office’ can be just about anywhere.

Investing in the right communication tools at this time is imperative so that your team can be more professional, productive and efficient, both now and in the long run.

Managing company culture

It is also so important to grow and maintain your company culture, so here are some things business owners can do in the meantime with their remote team:

Choose the right tools to match your culture

Because all communication and collaboration will be done using online tools, it is essential to choose apps and software that match the culture you are trying to create. If you want to create a fun, laid-back environment, choose tools that match this atmosphere.

You also want to make it as easy as possible for your remote team to stay up-to-date and keep in touch, be it via video conferencing tools, chat apps, or the comments section of your project management tool.

Recognition of great work

Public recognition for a job well done is one of the most effective and most natural ways to motivate a remote team.

For example, shout-outs in a team chat will not only boost morale and motivation but set a standard for other team members to strive for.

Remote team building

Team building does wonders to foster communication, especially among remote workers who do not see each other during the working day. Where possible, create an ‘office social life’ by planning team building activities to boost team morale.

These activities should be kept remote in the meantime, but video-based tools can be a great way to virtually bring the team ‘together’.

Upwork previously predicted that 73% of all departments will have remote workers by 2028, which highlights the many benefits that comes with the flexible set-up.

Right now, health and wellbeing has never been more vital – as coronavirus continues to escalate, the Government are now actively advising that people work from home, where possible.

Many people are becoming increasingly worried and anxious about being in close proximity with others, particularly during the working day, and remote working offers your employees the chance to self-isolate and somewhat control the environment that they are in, so this should be given as an option for all employees where possible.

Improving staff retention

By proving you are putting the needs of your workforce first, as well as encouraging a healthy work-life balance, remote working can increase tenure and help to retain employees.

In the longer term, including once the pandemic is more controlled, additional benefits of retaining employees and saving costs can also be expected.

However, while there are many benefits, there are also specific challenges to be aware of. For example, keeping track of activities, goals and productivity can become more difficult when the workforce is spread out and working in remote settings.

It is therefore key to ensure team members are aware of the company’s long-term and short-term goals, which will help to further motivate them to continue working as they previously had.

About the author

This article has been written exclusively for ByteStart by John Williams, Head of Marketing at Instant Offices.

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