Remote working is obviously not the brainchild of the covid-19 pandemic. It was always there.
IBM, for instance, gave leverage to its employees to work from home. In fact, nearly “25% of all US employees work remotely all or most of the time.” Also, according to Forbes, “five percent of full-time employees with office jobs worked primarily from home.”
Most companies preferred on-site corporate culture, so did the employees.
But, that culture is about to recede into the cold storage, all courtesy of the pandemic.
The new normal has made social distancing a mandated protocol.
And, the same social distancing implies employees cannot work in close quarters. Yes! Separate cubicles allocated to employees might fit the new norm, but it is quite hard to keep workers physically distanced from each other.
Lunch breaks or team meetings inside conference rooms are occasions to break the protocol, and the owners would not control that.
Imagine! One infected employee in that group can send the entire company to quarantine for an indefinite period.
Hence these trying times show adapting to a remote work culture might be the wisest thing to do.
But, ensuring a seamless workflow during distance working is quite challenging!
One cannot shift the entire office online overnight! That requires planning and having a proper system in place to accommodate the new normal culture.
Then again, building one is no rocket science. So here’s a blueprint of how to create and implement a positive remote work environment.
#Step 1: Create Different Remote Communication Channels
A poor flow of communication is likely going to be a major hindrance while setting up a remote work culture for your organization.
We have to make up our minds that the usual practice of simply walking up to a colleague’s workstation to clarify doubts will no longer be feasible. So we have to reach out to them virtually only when they are available.
Yes! Virtual channels of the communication might not cater to urgent assistance. But they will work nevertheless.
The pandemic has spearheaded many such tools like Slack that helped organizations keep communication between members seamless.
However, we need to adapt to the changing culture and develop a level of patience in us.
#Step 2: Managing Team Performance Using Specific Platforms
Gone are the days when the team gathered around in conference rooms to discuss work for the day. Or your manager was calling you for a one-on-one session to explain your KRAs for the month.
Gone are the days when the team met to discuss monthly targets and goals achieved.
No! These sessions will not happen for a long time. The change is for good after all!
Who enjoyed sitting in a room with your judgy peers and getting rebuked for not achieving monthly targets?
Who enjoyed watching others getting praised for their achievements?
Such meetings can put tremendous pressure on underachievers.
That was not a healthy practice.
The new normal changed all of that – for the employees. Also for the managers too!
Project management software like Asana and Trello equips managers to easily allocate tasks to each team member. At the same time, such platforms work as a database to provide you with a clear insight on total targets achieved for the month and top performers in your respective teams.
Some platforms allow you to get the report in Excel Sheets as well.
You can kiss those complex Excel Formulas a Goodbye.
You don’t have to sit down to create reports on your team’s performance. You have the data in Excel Sheets already.
As mentioned, download them, and you are good to go!
On the other hand, each employee can get a clear picture of where they stand in the team regarding their weekly targets achieved. Then, they can work at their own convenient time and cover up for the loss as and when they feel comfortable.
That’s going to save them a lot of embarrassment during team meets.
#Step 3: Training without Breaking the Workflow
Again, employee training has become less cumbersome and time consuming during the new normal. The HR department or the team managers will have to prepare the slides for the training module.
They do not have to arrange an entire conference room for the training or allocate specific hours to conduct the same. SaaS tools like LMS, TalentLMS, or Confluence are a perfect fit for the remote work culture.
Trainers need to upload the tutorials on one of these chosen platforms and notify each employee of the training requirement. Employees can take the training as and when they have the time-bandwidth. If they have queries, they can easily post their questions on the platform or directly ‘DM’ the respective trainers and get instant feedback.
Moreover, the trainers can keep track of how many employees took the training, how many hours they invested in taking the training, etc.
These platforms also leverage the trainers to quiz their employees and understand how the module benefited them.
#Step 4: Virtually Guide Employees during Onboarding
Onboarding new joiners with the company culture, setting up their system to work, getting them familiar with their KRAs, and breaking the ice between team members were easily done in offices.
However, the remote work culture has broken all physical contacts between employees, thereby posing a challenge both for the HRs and new joiners.
However, if we quit critically analyzing the present situation, we might notice ways to get new joiners onboard virtually without breaking your brain.
This is because there are tools and platforms to make your job and theirs easier.
For starters, the Human Resource Department should work alongside the IT guys to create a clear step-by-step guide to help new employees prepare their tech-gears sufficiently. Then, try to be ‘one-text’ away to address their queries.
Teams can easily arrange ice-breaking sessions using Google Meet or Zoom to get to know each other. Or create channels on platforms like Slack to create a sense of belongingness for the new joiners.
Managers should encourage healthy practices like collaboration and participation among team members to quickly help the newcomers easily pick up the ropes of their tasks.
#Step 5: Arranging Fun Activities Online
What employees miss most in virtual work set-ups are the casual lunch break banters with teammates or fun activities during occasions.
The sense of belonging might be lacking in a remote workplace. But that doesn’t imply you cannot undo the feeling and create moments of fun and frolic now and then?
Of course, you can!
Arranging Team Hurdles or Virtual Coffee Sessions via Google Meet or Zoom can very well connect your employees. Organize fun activities and encourage complete participation to make them feel they are part of the organization.
Keep things transparent by getting employees on board with all that is happening at the management level or what activities they can expect in days to come will make them feel not left out or cut-off in any way.
Creating and implementing a seamless remote work environment is not that tough, you see! The tools and equipment were always there right from the start.
It is now that companies are exploring their full potential.
The bottomline is…
The year 2020 already showed that remote working did not impact employee productivity.
Instead, the change in work culture gave them the much-needed flexibility and the time bandwidth to enjoy a work-life balance.
Yes! Not all jobs can indeed be catered to perfection through distance working.
But shifting those profiles online can be managed from a distance, and allowing the rest to work on-sites can be the new hybrid corporate culture moving forward.
The steps mentioned above are just for beginners.
There are different ways to optimize the remote work culture to your full benefit. Get yourself familiar with the norms and educate your employees on the same.
Things will fall into place easily!
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