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TECHNEWS · Friday, April 24, 2020

How to Effectively Working with your Team Remotely

COVID-19 outbreak has forced most of the companies to a new way of conducting businesses. Teams are facing new challenges staying remotely but new ways of working are coming.

Sectors that are facing the largest issues in this CODIV-19 time are tourism, food and beverage (restaurants, cafes and similar), fashion and textile, and traditional trading. What is clear is that the human impact is already tragic, and that companies have an imperative to act immediately to protect their employees, address business challenges and risks, and help to mitigate the outbreak in whatever ways they can.

Most employees had to transfer to remote working from their homes. Not only team members have faced this novelty and had to adjust to it. Managers are used to direct and coach workers with direct contact, while current situation requires individualization and dedication, as they need to manage their team and understand the conditions under which they perform best. Managers need to engage in understanding what are the concerns of their employees’ workflow and their emotional response to the situations.

One of the first things managers need to do is to set expectations early and clearly, so that both sides have a clear idea what is the company’s purpose, goals, and what is expected from them. Most of the companies in tech sector acted briefly by mandating employees to work from home, as they mostly need only their laptops. But what about sectors whose business is not adjustable for working at home? On the other hand, as in all critical times throughout history, there are some business that stand to benefit.

Forbes recently reported "Remote work is no longer a privilege, it became the standard operating mode for at least 50% of the U.S. population."  This percentage has now grown exponentially, and companies needed to adjust no matter they were prepared for it or not.

Using our experience of working at TVLP Institute with a team distributed over several time-zones, here are some tips that might be useful for your team:

  1. Transparency – Use tools like (a sort of business for having different channels in accordance with the projects you are working on. You can add people that are working on specific project by allowing them to write and share updates. Slack also allows you to have quick calls and share material. Share with your team members concerns and updates on the task you are working on.
  2. Communication – Set up the availability time periods during the day using Google calendar. During this outbreak many people are working at home without having a child care. That is important to organize and set your available time slots when the meetings could be organized. It will help your team mates a lot. Google calendar is connected with Bluejeans, Zoom, or Google Meet that are useful tools for organizing meetings. Announce the meeting publicly and let your team mates know what you are working on. Set an agenda ahead of time with a goal. Share documents to review ahead of the meeting.
  3. Projects and tasks organization – Use TRELLO to set up the projects and share it with your team mates. Create different boards in accordance with your projects, and set up the tasks by priority level. Adding members of your team, you will allow them to update the boards and in that way you will all be up to date in the real time.
  4. Empathy – Keep talking with your team members. Reflect on their concerns or issues that might affect their work. Share your thoughts, ideas and brainstorm about potential projects or resolutions of the current issues.
  5. Keep social interactions remotely - Keep on with your team habits. If you were having a drink every Friday after work, organize it through a video conferencing. Some teams were doing 2min planks at the specific day time, and they kept doing it just connecting remotely.

Not everyone can work well in remote environment or adjust to work remotely. That is why it is crucial to help your team members to organize their time well finding a place at their homes where they can concentrate and be effective. For the others, working remotely could be a great fit. Especially for those that are in this moment forced to stay at home with their children. Remote working is pulling out flexible working hours, and, therefore, parents can adjust their working time and time for childcare. Also, there are people that are used to being productive in the evening hours, and having a home office allows them to complete their tasks in the most suitable working hours.

Trust is one of the crucial keys for successful remote teams. You have to trust your team members that they will complete their tasks well and on time. That is why it is important to be organized and to schedule daily or weekly meetings upon the need. In that way, team members are kept updated and informed about the current work matters. One of the ways to organize is to use Slack channels – dedicated to specific projects where each team member can update the others on the task progress. Apart from the options mentioned above, Slack also has options to set reminders or save messages.

This outbreak will not last forever, however remote work will be present in long terms. During the quarantine, people have started getting used to using digitalized services, and most of them recognized its advantage and will continue with its usage once everything finishes. This will  affect customers and companies. Learning from leading a remote workforce could be one of the best practices you have learned from and about.

Tijana Kovijanic

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