Tips for transitioning to remote work
(Making the change from office to home)
As we’ve laid out in previous articles remote work has many benefits over working from an office and is not something that is going away any time soon.
Now, with many countries enforcing lockdown, some businesses wanting to continue to operate have been forced to transition their employees to working remotely. On the one hand, this can help open them up to more flexible work options in the future, but only if this is a success now. However, as this is something new to them, there are likely to be some teething problems getting things rolling.
Even for the businesses that have had some sort of remote work policy in place, moving to everyone working remotely is a drastic change, not least to what tools they now need to use and how they will communicate from day to day.
So, we’ve put some simple tips together to help managers transition their team from office-based to working remotely, keep everyone working and collaborating together and the communication throughout the team flowing.
Get everyone to plan in advance
Things are going to be different for a while so this will mean having a reference point for what needs to be worked on and what the priorities are. This helps your team actively think and focus on what are the most important things to work on that week. It also ties into our next point….
Share what‘s being’ worked on
The reason you get your team to have a plan for the coming week in advance is not only so they know what they are working on, but also so that the rest of the team does as well. This is all part of keeping everyone on the same page as to what is being worked on and by whom.
Get your team together at the beginning of each week on a video call and have them share their work plan for the coming week. This not only lets everyone else know what’s being worked on, but how each individual affects others in the team. It can help others plan what they are working on as they are more aware of projects and tasks status.
What you don’t want to happen is for breakdown in communication and the projects to stall because no one knows what anyone else is working on. That’s why it’s important to get your team together at least once a week to share what they are going to be working on.
Track what is being worked on
Another way to help everyone see what is being worked on is to have a central project management system such as Basecamp or Trello. This also helps everyone see what is being worked on. If there is a team member waiting on the completion of a task, they will know who they are waiting on and when it might be completed.
Also, as a manager, there is nothing worse than being blind to what is going on within your team, this also helps you keep an overview as to everyone’s progress.
Create your own water cooler
As the social element of working together in an office is not there while working remotely, you won’t have the normal “water cooler” effect. What you should do is arrange a group call between your team where you all have a social catch up about what you’ve been doing and what has been going on recently.
This helps keep your team connected and bringing that social element that they won’t have as when they worked in the office. Schedule a specific time each week where you all jump on a group chat for 15–30 minutes of the workday. This also provides the benefit of giving those who may be living alone and not have as much social interaction as those who live with others.
Make the effort to talk
As the ability to turn around and ask someone a question is not an option, communication needs to be something that is actively done. If there is a question you need to ask, you should send a message, arrange a call or use whatever way method you choose to communicate.
You aren’t going to be able to stop and ask someone as you go past their desk, so you will need to be more active in starting conversations. In the same vein, you need to instil this in your team, you can start this by setting an example by having an “open door” policy, so that whenever someone needs to talk to you, they can feel free to get in touch.
As well as your group meetings where everyone shares what they are going to work on for the next week, it would also be wise for you as the manager to arrange one on one catch up calls with each team member to go over any project elements or problems they may be having. This will also help encourage people to get in touch with you if they are having an issue.
Be patient, replies won’t necessarily be instant
This is something that can take getting used to, especially if you’ve not been in a situation or worked like this previously. If you’re speaking face to face, you will have the attention of the person you’re speaking to and will get an instant response to what you’re saying (relatively speaking). However, when working remotely, the type of response will depend on the tool used.
(Here’s a list of tools discounted or free at the moment)
You need to be aware that the way in which you are sending a comment or question won’t necessarily evoke an answer straight away, as there could be numerous reasons such as the person you’re messaging hasn’t seen it yetor they’ve scheduled to look into it but haven’t got round to it due to other work.
You need to be patient with replies, that’s not to say that if it’s urgent you shouldn’t drop a message chasing, but that other non-urgent queries won’t always get the instant response you may normally expect.
Though you will probably need to do more than this to get evertyhing working as efficiently as possible, this article help as some quick advice to make the transition from office work to working from home.
Have any of your own tips? Share them with us in the comments.