Using your Tech to Work-from-Home (WFH): Part 4 — How to Setup a Remote Team in the Midst of an Outbreak

In response to the COVID-19 threat, a lot of companies have moved their work arrangement to a fully remote team. Companies like the American Express, Xerox, United Health, and many others have integrated this set-up to their current workforce. And with this, it could change the future of work now that we’re seeing the value of a remote workforce.

This isn’t necessarily new to all, but if you’re part of an organization which is new to this you might feel at first a bit challenged to set up your remote team. It requires time, effort, strategy, and proper execution to make it effective.

Here are a few tips from GroupLink for those who are making the jump right now. Some of our teams have been remote working for several years now so we’re pretty confident on the topic. Let us explore the steps:

Set everything up before working

A well-known adage is “99 percent preparation and 1 percent luck.” This holds true in the professional landscape that the prepared organizations can wade through difficult times. For you as an employer it’s important to set everything up — from tools to schedule, and especially the mindset. 

Remember there are risks involved in this kind of undertaking. People can forget the difference between work hours and personal time and they can spend too much time online without making proper transitions. Some might be following their favorite celebrity posts during the required time for work and you won’t be there to monitor this.

Prepare your employees. Ask them what can be the possible obstacles for them when working from home and what they recommend to do to overcome them. Let them realize that you’re all in this together and your role is to provide guidance and to make sure they’re on track. But also let them know that you won’t be there to micromanage them every step of the way because that’s not how you want to run your team.

Define what are the important meetings and when can you conduct them. Do you need to do it every week? If so, why? Can chat via Slack do the job instead of meeting through an online conference call? Ask these questions and ask your team what they think about it. It’ll give you clarity in the goals that you want to achieve as an efficient team, and will cultivate the ideal culture of productivity in your organization.

Give your team the direction it needs

When abruptly jumping into remote work, sometimes direction gets lost in transition. Some team members may be aligned with what their tasks are but may not participate in healthy discussions that are essential to the team’s growth.

Make sure you explain to them what the company’s mission, vision, and goals are and reinforce those company objectives. Be as detailed as possible so they understand why they were hired in the first place and how the company believes they can contribute to achieving the overall goals and objectives.

Reminding them of this can help them align their mindset with that of the company, and it’ll be easier for them to get a sense of the importance of what they are doing.

Reinforce a positive environment

During these strange times (e.g., during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis), it’s understandable that some employees might feel scared, anxious, depressed, frustrated, and unhappy. When they’re home and watching the news, all they see from dawn to dusk is news about people losing jobs, about drastic measures the government is considering, and about people who lost lives in fighting this pandemic.

When this is the only kind of news they hear it can impair their performance, focus, and mood and is easy for them to become distracted. Uplift your employees’ spirits with positive energy so they can think and reason well. Send them positive vibes through an email every day or share funny videos you think they can laugh at and encourage them to practice random acts of kindness inside their homes. Check on them and tell them how you appreciate them as an employee. Remind them that with teamwork, proper mindset, and healthy habits, they, their families and the team can weather this storm.

Choose the right tools

When you select productivity tools for your employees, it’s important to first try the tools which are most-highly recommended. For project management and for larger teams, is what we recommend. If you want a straightforward to-do list for everyone, feel free to explore To-doist or Trello (our favorite). The key here is to find one that works well for you and that you can see yourself using consistently.

Two of the more sophisticated and  fully functional tools are everything HelpDesk and GroupLink Workflow Process & Incident Tracking. These are  cloud-based workflow productivity solutions that GroupLink has offered for FREE to new organization entities during, and for 4 months beyond the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lock-down crisis. They help you and your team get started with work and streamline your process for better productivity and team performance and overall satisfaction.

Let’s explore some of the work-from-home and e-workflow features of both of these solutions:

  • Email and Calendar integration – it helps technicians and workflow participants schedule appointments and performs searches for end-users’ calendars. This promotes effective communication between users/customers and technicians/participants.
  • Directory integration – since this tool can allow unlimited users, it allows instant users authentication from a central repository.
  • Cross-Platform Solution – No matter what platform you are using, it can run smoothly on Mac OS®, Windows®, Linux®, and mobile devices.
  • Business Process Automation Using Workflow – To make things faster, it’s always advisable to automate especially your workflow. You can set up tickets or work orders to launch in sequence or launch multiple tickets/work orders simultaneously. It’s more than just a project management tool. It can serve as a project management and incident management solution tool.
  • Export PDFs or Excel sheets – Imagine creating a report from scratch i.e. you wanted to pull out that report on the tickets or work orders received by your organization for the month of March. No one wants to do the manual work. Using the tool, you can export and manipulate the list of tickets, work orders and/or reports to PDFs and Excel spreadsheets. You can attach them to your email and submit them to the folks in-charge without a hassle.

There are still more features of these tools that would be helpful to your needs. Another cloud-based tool is GroupLink for SafestSchools for campus safety and incident resolution workflow. Again, all these solutions are made available at NO COST to new organization entities during, and for 4 months beyond the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lock-down crisis.

Be flexible with the tools that the team will use. For example, if they’d like to keep it minimal, 1-2 tools, that’s fine as long as it works for everyone. But continue to explore the tools that you see your team will use for a long time.

Expect conflicts among employees

One thing about working in a digital space, context can sometimes become hidden or lost and often causes misunderstanding and worse, conflict. An employee might think that his teammate is not doing his tasks properly. Without an office setting, how do you deal with such a situation? How do you communicate with them with clarity?

You need to expect that these situations will arise more often and that it’s perfectly fine. Think about possible scenarios and how you would respond as an employer in an effort to mediate. Write down the answers — answers that follow company guidelines and protocols.

When you and your other team members first start working from home, the first day is exciting and thrilling at the same time and it’s important to keep that momentum until everything goes back to normal. In the case of the 2020 Covid-19 crisis, we don’t, at first, know when that will be, but we hope to soon realize that this “working from home” pattern can become a strength for the business. For businesses where most team members can be connected through the Internet, the best way to cope with change and to become an effective company is to empower your team with the right technology for the new digital landscape.

Happy remote working!

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