The global pandemic has been the catalyst for one of the fastest changes to the workplace in living memory. In a matter of weeks and sometimes even days businesses had to take their entire workplaces online to keep their staff working and adhere to government requirements. While the days of “make your own sourdough” and video conferenced dinner parties are hopefully short-lived, analysts believe that remote working will not just be a legacy of the pandemic and that organisations need to build capacity into their businesses to create a more effective working environment no matter where their staff are working from.
It's no surprise that technology & communication companies have long embraced remote working, UC7 and our partner businesses Partner Wholesale Networks, Now Telecom and Now Technologies have found numerous benefits to both work output and business culture through embracing flexible working environments for their staff and contractors.
Here is some of the ways we’ve found to help manage our remote teams
Lead by example
When we started enabling a work from home environment several years ago, we felt one of the most important parts of leadership was encouraging the development of clear boundaries for ourselves and our staff, at its most basic; delineating availability, when we will be working and how we can be reached. But also; what sort of working environment projects the right image for our business on a video call or what to do with unexpected interruptions. This not only sets clear expectations it helps avoid burnout.
It’s all too easy to forget that working from home can alter risk factors for employees, but we have a duty of care towards our team for their mental and physical health no matter where they are working from. Our staff also have a duty to take care for their own health and safety at all times while working in any environment, and must follow any reasonable policies or directions. From simple things like making sure we get up and move often enough to more complicated issues like mental health during Covid-19, good communication between teams is important to develop safe working practices. Worksafe Australia has a helpful guide for employers.
Get social & Build Culture
Team building and camaraderie are important for any team, but good managers go out of their way to form personal bonds with remote employees. We use regular check in meetings with staff to ask about their personal life, families, and hobbies as well as providing space in team meetings and online social meet-ups like our weekly Kahoots trivia session hosted via Zoom, to retain personal connections and strengthen relationships.
Embrace technology & tools
One of the benefits of technology is the ability to keep your team connected and the last few years has seen an explosion in both the quality and quantity of communication tools available. UC7 offers a unified communication system, where staff can access phone, messaging, team collaboration, call recording tools through either desktop and mobile devices or hardware based handsets.
Video conferencing platforms such as Webex, Webex Teams & Zoom help our staff, sales partners and clients stay connected when they can’t be face to face, but it is also important that your teams are supported with the best hardware and connectivity solutions for their needs like those available from our partner businesses Now Telecom & Partner Wholesale Networks.
Focus on outcomes not activity
We avoid micromanaging our staff, and feel it is much more important to focus on monitoring and managing results. Just appearing visible online is not an indicator of productivity, instead we’ve built a team we trust to manage their own time effectively to deliver the outcomes required. If we are meeting the goals we set together, then fantastic. If not, we need to look into the situation further and how we can change that outcome.
We regularly check in with our team, just to find out how they are managing (personally & professionally). We try to understand their individual challenges like childcare arrangements & working environment and factor in their personal situations when managing performance and outcomes.
According to a study outlined in the HBR, 46% of remote workers said the best managers were those who “checked in frequently and regularly.” As the article’s authors wrote: “The most successful managers are good listeners, communicate trust and respect, inquire about workload and progress without micromanaging, and err on the side of overcommunicating.”
While it’s no secret 2020 has been one of the hardest years for business across the world, but as a business with headquarters located in Melbourne with one of the toughest periods of lockdown has given us a new appreciation for the importance of good working from home processes & technology. Contact our team, if you would like to find out more about how UC7 can help your own team have the best tools available to work from home long-term or transition them back into working from the office part-time or full-time please get in touch.