Tips and Tricks for Remote Working Environments Part One: Employers - How can you set your team up for success?
Undoubtedly, remote working has not only become a trend over the last several years but is a necessity amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. If you or your company have never worked remotely, you are more than likely facing challenges you have never dealt with before – working at home, full-time, possibly with a new set of “co-workers” – family members, pets, roommates etc. I’d like to share a few things that I have learned over the last several years with my remote organization, Female Integrator Mastermind (FIM), and a few things that BCR® Wealth recently implemented during our transition to working from home.
Part One: Employers – How can you set your team up for success?
- Set clear expectations
It is important to remember that your team is looking to you for guidance on their new work environment. Clearly communicating expectations will set the tone so everyone is on the same page about the standards. A few things you should consider:
- Are you maintaining normal business hours or is there an adaptation of the work schedule?
- How should people contact you? What if it’s an emergency?
- How should people contact each other?
- Do you need to establish group messaging?
- What meetings will be required and of whom?
- What is the dress code?
- What technology changes do we need to implement?
- What policies and/or processes need to be adjusted?
- Will projects, goals or events stay the course, be postponed or possibly be canceled?
I encourage you to have grace and forgiveness when it comes to this last point. BCR Wealth runs on the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®) and recently established our rocks (90-day goals). We quickly realized that what we thought were important tasks for the quarter were interrupted and needed to be adapted to what had become our highest priority- communicating frequently with clients and taking advantage of market volatility to align our clients’ portfolios for success. You/your company might need to adjust your goals and priorities for the ever-changing environment we are facing and THAT IS OK!
- Develop a new norm with consistency from your office
Most people thrive with consistent routine(s)! Personally, I have a morning routine that includes breakfast, meditation and prayer, grooming and dressing, and a work routine that includes meetings, emails, accomplishing tasks, etc., as well as a night routine, a makeup routine, etc.
It is important to realize that we and our teams need the consistent behavior that we are accustomed to in our in-office work environments. At BCR, we have a weekly staff meeting, department meetings and same page meetings. It was important to us that we adapt these meetings into our virtual environment. In addition, we implemented brief (typically 15-20 min) check-in meetings at 8 am and 1 pm to connect with each other on client work that we are completing. This has become our new normal. Our agenda is typically:
- Share something positive that happened (personal or professional)
- Discuss upcoming tasks or meetings
- Inform team members of items they need from each other
- Share celebrations and/or accomplishments.
The first and last bullet are important for the morale of your team! We are all bombarded with depressing and sad news whenever we turn our televisions. More than ever, we need to be reminded that there is still positivity and things to be celebrated during this unprecedented time.
- Communicate, Communicate and Communicate some more!
Communication in a remote working environment is critical to the success of the team. I now understand that more than ever. When setting your expectations, means of communication should be established immediately. Some will feel isolated in this new working environment. It is important to keep your team informed, engaged and socially fulfilled.
There are numerous means of communication; emails, text messages, messaging services like Microsoft Teams, Slack or WhatsApp, virtual meeting platforms like Zoom, Skype for Business or GoToMeeting that are great ways to stay connected. Don’t underestimate the value of picking up the phone! People misinterpret written communication all the time. If you sense that there is something “not right” it is everyone’s best interest if you pick up the phone and solve the confusion right away.
I strongly encourage you to take a brief moment out of your day to just check in with your team members. I have put together a schedule to reach out to one team member per day just to ask about how they are doing mentally, emotionally and physically.
- Technology is your ally
Some technology that you and your team will need to work from home are obvious; computers/ laptops, webcams, headphones or a microphone, etc. I mentioned a few virtual meetings platforms and group messaging services in bullet #3 above. These platforms are a tremendous help in communication. There are a few additional apps/programs you might want to consider for things such as project management, time management, eSignatures and collaborative documents. There are numerous others but these are a few of my favorites:
- Project Management /Workflows: Monday, Asana, Trello
- Time Management: Timely, Toggl
- eSignatures: DocuSign, eversign, Adobe digital signatures
- Collaborative documents: Google Docs, Zoho Docs, Dropbox Paper
Unfortunately, criminals and hackers are taking advantage of our insecurities around COVID-19. Phishing scams are running rampant! People are curious and/or worried about what is going on with COVID-19. Requiring your team not to look up anything about the virus is not effective. Discourage your team members from clicking on any links in emails. Instead, ask them to use a search engine to look it up, like Google. A great tool to test whether people click on phishing scams is KnowBe4! You can set up emails to be sent to team members and monitor who clicks on links. This tool allows you to coach your team on what to look for in emails and how to avoid these scams.
In addition to education on phishing scams, Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are a great security measure. VPNs allow you and your team to login to your network and work as if you were in the office behind firewalls and other security measures you have in place. You can also access any files you have saved on your network.
Remember, the pace of the leader is the pace of the pack. Ask yourself, what impact do you want to have on your team? Presenting yourself in a calm, collected manner is beneficial for you and your team! If you’ve ever been on an airplane, you know the flight attendants tell you to put your own mask on before assisting others. I encourage you to take care of yourself, and your team.