While the challenges of Covid continue to affect the entire world, many of us are yet again faced with a new curveball; being asked to return to the office. Whether this is being asked of you or not, the fluidity of the workplace in 2021 is something that we must continue to adapt around.
For many, we have fundamentally shifted the way that we prefer to conduct our work; and the option to work remotely from home or a remote location is a deal breaker. There is plenty of data and studies around this recent shift, but these numbers are worth noting from a Growmotely study:
- 97% of employees don’t want to return to the office full-time.
- Only 3% of employees and entrepreneurs surveyed said they want to work full time at a physical office when workplaces are able to safely reopen after Covid-19. The remaining 97% prefer some degree of flexibility between working remotely and working in an office.
- Additionally, the study found that 61% of employees prefer being remote.
As a CEO of a small team that has always worked remotely, I have a few thoughts to share on virtual work teams, and how to build and foster collaborative relationships, regardless of how your team may be set-up.
Remote Work Teams: Managing Transition
This fall, whether you’re returning to the workplace full-time, moving to a hybrid model, or continuing to work fully remote, your best bet is to have a plan in place. How will you and your coworkers make it work? I break out three simple tips below.
1. Hybrid Work Teams: Be Open To Adjustments
Perhaps you’re returning to the office, but your manager isn’t. Or vice versa. No matter what the set-up may be for your remote work team moving forward, being open and flexible to adjustments is key.
Be clear and communicate frequently. What’s working, and what isn’t? Calendar visibility is a great way to make sure the entire team is on the same page. Whenever possible, be communicative around what your working hours are for the day/week, and how you can be reached. Or most importantly, when you can’t be reached.
Keep in mind, many of us might be dealing with children returning to school for the first time in over a year… or getting back into a daycare routine, etc. Whatever the scenario might be, giving grace and flexibility in this season of change is crucial.
2. Effective Remote Teams: Establish Clarity
Whether you’re working on a fully remote work team, hybrid, or even in-office, it’s essential to sit down as a team and make sure that everyone has what they need to do their job. And not just perform it, but to excel.
Is the team well-connected, and if not, how can this be improved? If employees are working remotely, do they have all of the tools at home that they might need to be successful, and focused?
Most importantly, as a leader it’s vital that the team is set-up to build trust and relationships – across the desks, or through the screens. In 2021 we are better equipped than ever to establish a flourishing virtual workforce. Utilize Zoom, Slack, Google Hangouts, Loom – the list of free tools at our disposal are endless.
Managers and team members must have clarity around what each other’s personal wellbeing needs are as well. This not only helps to establish trust, but a thriving workplace culture.
At the end of the day, better work-life balance is the main reason why many people choose to work remotely. Make sure that while quality work is still being performed, that your remote work team feels balanced, and valued from a personal wellbeing perspective.
3. Remote Team Management: Manage Workplace Change
Change in any form can be difficult. If your team seems to be struggling with a virtual, or in-office shift, be sure that wins and accomplishments are being identified and communicated. Even if it’s simply checking off the final box of a project, or completing a design that’s gone through several iterations – celebrate it!
Notes of gratitude are never overlooked, and are a great way to grow relationships across the workplace.
Another helpful way to manage change is to establish consistency throughout the week. No matter how large or small your workplace may be, it’s important to keep the team on the same page. One tool that I personally utilize are daily huddle meetings. Each morning, my team of 8 comes together for 10 minutes on Zoom to share our daily to-dos, what was accomplished yesterday, and to talk through any problems we might be facing.
This can help leaders keep a temperature check on where their employees stand. Do they might seem down, mention that they’re struggling with something, or are missing huddle altogether? Find a way to connect with them, and address it.
While moving through change, keep an open mind and observe. What is working, and what isn’t? This will help clarify what the path moving forward might look, or what still needs to potentially be adapted with your remote work team.
Is Working Remotely Truly Effective?
Since 2009, the number of people who work from home has risen by 159%.
And with good reason. Statistics seem to point to yes… if teams and virtual environments are set-up correctly, remote work teams can be effective and productive.
Another study from Accenture looks at the concept of being able to be productive from virtually anywhere, and why it might be a smart concept for businesses to embrace.
Accenture believes that there are clear financial benefits for organizations that can deliver this “productivity from anywhere” environment. They argue that 63% of the best performing companies have already got an environment that facilitates work from anywhere. By contrast, a similar proportion of the worst performing companies have no such facilities in place.
Data continues to point to the fact that remote work, or at least the option of it, is what most people desire. And while some companies are calling for employees to come back to work this fall, we are also seeing people leaving their jobs because of it.
Is it worth losing valuable employees over lack of flexibility? In the majority of cases, I would argue, no.