The spread of COVID-19 has upended the overall dynamics of life as we know it. From our everyday routines and interaction with loved ones to the way we operate our businesses – nothing is like it used to be.
Many employees, no doubt, appreciate their new work-from-home offices. A Future of Work survey states that 78% of employees consider telecommuting and flexible work schedules the most significant non-monetary benefits that also help increase the retention rates.
Managing distributed teams is not easy and poses several challenges for employers. However, managers should find their way around these issues. According to a survey by Gallup, 54% of employees would give up a job if they could get one with more flexibility.
Vadim Rogovskiy, co-founder and CEO of 3DLOOK, has managed a team that’s distributed between three countries and five cities for four years. They’ve shifted to remote work almost completely during the lockdown. Here he shares tactics that would help companies make a seamless transition to the new normal – a digital workplace.
Promote staff teamwork in an era of social distancing
Many companies that offer the option of remote work focus solely on ways to track the progression and effectiveness of their employees. However, it’s also crucial to create comfortable working conditions. For example, each company has to make sure that their employees have everything they need to effectively work from home. This includes assistance with workplace arrangements, providing all the necessary gadgets or compensating the cost of the equipment, and paying for amenities like high-speed internet.
Then, it’s essential to really know your team: what are they passionate about, what are their hobbies, what challenges them the most. Getting to know each other is extremely important to establish trustworthy relationships with team leaders and unite teams as a whole.
The company should make sure that employees don’t feel left out or isolated. Regular online sync meetings and one-to-one calls are important, but it’s best to offer other informal group activities beyond that. For example, online group workouts, corporate events, and online education work very well in such circumstances. These activities help make sure that the teams are involved in various joint activities and have an opportunity to connect. This helps lift the team spirit and feel each other’s vibe, and gradually enter into normal life.
Additionally, you can further boost team engagement in such activities by allowing them to decide whether they want to participate virtually or offline – in case in-person gatherings are safe. That way each team member can choose the option that they’re the most comfortable with.
Communication and transparency is key
Teamwork and communication go hand in hand, and can significantly impact the relationships between your staff members. This builds trust between employees and helps them reach outstanding results together. Companies should work on creating a customizable workflow that allows each employee to feel involved with the company and its processes while boosting motivation.
Then, it is imperative to communicate your company’s global plans and objectives in periodic meetings so that your team is aligned and can work towards a collective goal. Also, ensure that teams are satisfied and have their spirits up with the help of frequent department-specific meetings. That way, you can also help employees understand the potential growth opportunities they can leverage to enhance their skills. It’s essential to support employees to unleash their true potential. Additionally, each employee should have a dedicated mentor who helps them move to remote work and gauge their productivity and accomplishments.
Make sure the approach is well-received
Collecting regular and honest feedback from the employees helps polish the approach that would work best for each specific company. A simple survey can come in handy, and make sure to encourage any feedback! The earlier you find out that the team is unhappy, the more you can do to get things back to normal. It’s important to avoid misunderstandings and prevent problems. The team needs to know that you care, so make sure you introduce all novelties gradually and collect feedback along the way. This will help determine the right approach and develop a system that would motivate the team.
Take 3DLOOK for example. We launched CEO Talks, which includes monthly virtual group meetings with the CEO where everyone can receive answers to any questions, share their feedback, and discuss important matters. This helps clarify management’s stance on key issues and make the employees feel valued.
It is essential to implement such initiatives in these uncertain times. These strategies help your team garner a sense of belonging and boost employee morale. You may tweak such initiatives and activities to fit your team’s requirements.
Going back to normal
Every process, system, or rule that is implemented in the company should not be made just to tackle a temporary problem. Recent events have shown that companies need to focus on building an ecosystem that will not be affected by external factors, and trust and transparency are the keys to success.
Although remote work can’t entirely recreate and replace the typical office setting, there are advantages to a hybrid workplace model. Companies need to make the most out of offering benefits that complement a flexible workplace arrangement. For example, you can offer a certain number of work-from-home days to employees, say ten days per month, so they choose to do what works best for them. In an IWG survey, 32% of workers stated that they would prefer being given the liberty to decide where to work over a prestigious role in the company.
The principles mentioned above helped our team at 3DLOOK feel united and solid, and the transition to full remote work went very smoothly. During this period, the team has performed exceptionally well, and we’ve seen unprecedented growth.
As teams continue to embrace the new normal via virtual offices and result-based tracking, it is crucial to consider the effect of your business choices on the organization’s culture and norms. Leverage this opportunity to maximize the benefits of virtual and hybrid models. It is also essential to focus on things that bring your people together and build a unified team. Build a shared culture that provides social cohesion, identity, belonging, and stability. Whether your employees are on-premises, working remotely, or in a combination of both, it is pivotal to create an environment built on trust and transparency.