Knowledge Work Has Changed Forever
In the span of about a month, Covid-19 changed from some far off bad news in another continent to have an impact on every American’s life whether you have come in direct contact with the virus or not. As the virus continues to spread across North America there will be more intense measures implemented around transportation, social distancing, borders, essential services, and work. Companies that have never considered allowing their team members to work remotely are now depending on remote work to keep their businesses alive. There will be a mix of outcomes. Some companies will go back to how they worked before and some companies will take what they learn while working remotely and apply those lessons to their daily operations. Here are ways that companies will change for the long term after remote work.
1. Cost Savings: Companies transitioning to remote workers as an emergency in response to the pandemic are likely not going to see many cost savings immediately because they will still have empty offices that are charging them rent and old processes that are not immediately adapted. They may save a little cash because there is no current need to stock the coffee or beer fridge and managers will no longer be having team lunches. What will actually impact the bottom line is the willingness of leadership to allow team members to work remotely in the longer term. By allowing team members to work remotely or share work stations a company might not need to move immediately into a larger office which can create a lot more flexibility for growing companies.
2. Moving beyond email: There are still many companies that depend on email despite the enormous number of team chat solutions out there. Right when you think there are enough company chat tools, they come out with a new one. Using these tools allows you to keep conversations focused, accessible and organized. They also provide a far better search functionality so that you can go back and find what you are looking for. Once teams adopt these tools it will be difficult to go back.
6. Team motivation: Remote managers are forced to develop better processes and leverage better tools to more effectively motivate their teams. This leads to developing better goals and more effective ways to evaluate your team’s ability to reach those goals. Here are 9 ways to keep teams motivated while taking remote work into consideration:
- Foster Collaboration: You might not be able to set in-person meetings but there are many tools to promote better collaboration online.
- Avoid Useless Meetings: These will naturally die in a remote world.
- Set Clear Goals: Using a good platform to set goals and create a clear vision is very powerful, even for teams that usually do it offline.
- Don’t Micromanage: I don’t think anybody or anything can stop a micromanager from micromanaging. Creating good processes and visibility into projects can help.
- Pay your people what they are worth: Having the flexibility to choose the right person anywhere in the world enables leaders to find the best person for the job and incentivize them accordingly.
- Provide them with a pleasant place to work: Not everyone loves remote work, but those who love it will be sad to be back in an office 5 days a week.
- Encourage happiness: First, you have to know what makes your team happy. Do you know what makes your team happy? ChatFox icebreakers can help.
- Don’t punish failure: This is one of the challenges of remote work. Since you don’t always see the face of the person you are talking to, you do not know how angry/happy they are with any given results. You must make a conscious effort to create clear expectations with a sound way of evaluating if those expectations are met or not. Completing a task does not mean that it meets the desired standard. Using technology allows teams to get granular. If it is clear that someone has failed the set up a neutral discussion and look to the future, don’t use email as a crutch to avoid tough conversations.
- Offer opportunities for self-development: Bringing the latest guru into your office is pretty useless these days. There are many learning management systems that can align your team’s learning goals with their role in the organization.
7. Company culture: Culture goes far beyond a vision and mission on a website. The culture is built on the norms of an organization and how team members align their behavior and expectations to those norms. Creating a culture where people want to work includes giving them the flexibility to work the way that makes them more productive. Building that into your culture for the long term attracts a broader subset of talent as your company grows.
Out of site out of mind
8. Use the internet more: We already use the internet plenty, but with all of the niche SaaS tools out there (like ChatFox) you can fill a lot of gaps in your current processes and get much more visibility into how the organization is operating. Once they get your hooks into you it will be tough to drop them. The key is knowing which ones are actually working.
9. Work friends: We all build relationships with our colleagues that if in a great culture, will flourish into friendships. This is a little more difficult online without the beers, but it is an opportunity to connect with a larger variety of colleagues at your organization that are not on your team, in your department or sitting in the cubicle across from you. Connecting with a larger variety of coworkers solidifies the company culture and makes workflow more efficiently cross-functionally.
10. Professional growth: You might take for granted how people actually advance in their careers. We like to believe that the best person suited for a job no matter where in the organization they are is the most likely person to get the job. That is not the case, having relationships with influencers in the organizations increase your visibility throughout the organization and position certain individuals for growth. Out of sight, out of mind as they say. Building a process that looks at data versus relationships is more likely in a remote organization as there are not the same opportunities for impromptu one on one meetings or coffee chats.