“Remote Work”, noun: a situation in which an employee works mainly from home and communicates with the company by email, telephone, and instant message. Management methods have had to adapt to the rise in popularity of remote working.

Remote work has become more mainstream today due to:

  • companies trying to reduce their brick and mortar foot print,
  • the ability to hire top talent outside of your company’s location,
  • and getting the most out of the time we have each day.

Working remotely can be a double-edged sword. It allows employees to have a more flexible work schedule but managing remote teams and working on projects where communication is not done in-person can be challenging.

Our staff finds remote work gives them more flexibility and allows them to integrate their work and life. When school is delayed or the plumbing needs to be fixed, employees can work from home while still addressing such needs.

Based on our experience, we have defined our top tips for making remote work and teams successful.

1. Communication
Studies have shown that 55% of communication is done through body language, 38% is our tone of voice and 7% are the words we speak. Remote communication cuts off 55% of how we effectively communicate. How can you combat this?

Use pictures as a replacement for body language. Visualizing ideas is much easier than trying to convey them with words. How would you describe the shape of Florida? Wouldn’t it be much easier to show a picture of Florida. This saves so much time.

When ideas are discussed, everyone has a different concept of the idea, but with a picture, everyone is seeing the same concept and we are all on the same page.

2. The Right Tools
A screen share product is an important tool to be used with remote teams. The product must be easy to use by both parties; quick to launch, and easy for users to know how to share their screen.

Using a computer that allows you to dial in from the keyboard and using the computer’s speaker also allows users to participate in meetings without worrying about burning their cell minutes or needing a land line to attend meetings.

3. Structure
Build structure into all your online meetings. Be prepared for every meeting, have an agenda of what you want to cover, and set expectations for what needs to get accomplished. Be ready to bring people back to the topic if they begin to wander. Put the agenda up on the screen for all to see and follow.

4. Employee Expectations
Be transparent with your employees about your expectations and discuss them on an on-going basis. Initially, remote work should be on a ‘trial basis’ and everyone should accept that if things don’t work out, the rules will need to be modified or eliminated.

Remote work isn’t a solution for everyone. Some people need to have other people around them to be creative; others like to have people nearby to offer advice or solutions to problems. Still others are not comfortable talking on the phone and prefer to meet in person. So, even though people may anticipate working remotely as a great benefit, in the end, it may not be a perfect solution for everyone. Be ready to offer a more traditional solution for those people that don’t want to work remotely.

5. Be On-Time for Meetings
Don’t dial in at 4:00 for a 4:00 meeting. Dial in 5 minutes ahead of time to make sure you can access the online screen share, and so the meeting can start on time, not at 4:05 or 4:10.

6. Provide Recaps
Document what was discussed and send an email of your understanding after the meeting. This way the team has documentation of what was discussed, the outcomes decided, next steps and who is responsible for which tasks.

As technology becomes easier and more readily available for employees, remote work will continue to be a common solution to many staffing issues. Working remotely can be a wonderful opportunity to create a better work/life balance and try different ways to be creative. When individuals have options as to when and how they work, they will be happier, more dedicated, and more productive.