We just rang in 2021, but the effects of the coronavirus pandemic that started last year is still seen in societies and organizations. The world was forced into a large-scale work-from-anywhere experiment. And more and more formerly frontline offices that operated under strict ‘no-flex’ arrangements have now adapted and evolved into remote-only companies.
Their most pertinent challenge was restructuring working ways to create a safe, enjoyable, yet productive jobs and lives of employees. Left with no choice, organizations swiftly migrated to working outside the concrete office space. According to Gartner, 88% of organizations encouraged employees to work from home. Remote work also referred to as telecommuting or work from home, started replacing brick-and-mortar offices and soon became the new normal.
Before the pandemic, the standard workplace wisdom was that offices were essential to maintain efficiency, productivity, and onboarding the best talent. Companies vied for setting up prime offices in some of the major urban cities around the globe. After the COVID 19 outbreak, organizations that never envisioned a remote work arrangement in their business continuity plan adopted it.
Contrary to the conventional belief about office productivity, remote work benefits started gaining popularity among employers and employees alike. While employees can avoid commuting time and balance work-life, employers save costs, reduce attrition, and increase productivity. Buffer State of Remote Work 2020 reveals 98% of employees want to continue working remotely, and 97% would highly recommend it.
The initial doubts about this new way of work were how to monitor remote teams and track productivity. Eventually, it all narrowed down to transparency, without which even the most talented resources can fall through the cracks. As organizations acclimatize rapidly to ensure business continuity, implementation of user-friendly and intuitive tools that boost collaboration and productivity has become indispensable. Here is how using the right tool restores transparency into 100% and partially remote firms;
1) Provides complete visibility on who is working on what
The biggest challenge for remote workers is to establish their presence. Without a remote team management software, workers risk remaining invisible. The collaboration within such platforms unify remote workers across a distributed set up. It comprises a central hub for conversations and keeps your employees in the loop concerning the latest changes in governance and processes. An informed team can continue to move in cohesion.
More importantly, such tools keep individuals accountable during work hours. Managers with administrator access can reach out for updates or prompt conversations based on the availability of workers, as reflected on synced calendars. They can be in the know of existing issues or workflows that require their decision for pending action. With complete visibility into tasks, functions, activities and people, you’ll know what happens from the moment people clock in to the time they log out.
2) Eliminate data discrepancy and redundancy
In a 9-5 workplace, face to face meetings or a visit to a colleague’s cubicle helps exchange information to some extent. However, in a remote work setup, workers are working in different locations and time zones. So, the chances of accidentally withholding information or not updating data in real-time are higher. Besides, looking for information via emails or spreadsheets can be cumbersome, time-consuming, and, most importantly, misleading as they are not up-to-date.
Data discrepancy can lead to project delays and budget overruns. Resource management solutions can help eliminate silos of spreadsheets by documenting all updates and changes in real-time. Whether it’s resource request fulfillment, booking modifications, or leave approvals, it documents them all. It also eliminates data redundancy by pooling all information onto a single source of truth. Besides, competency updates within a resource management tool need to go through validation and authorization before it is visible across the enterprise in real-time.
3) Setting clear and measurable expectations
Setting clear expectations ensures transparency and helps remote workers stay motivated and committed to completing their tasks. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goal-setting creates attainable benchmarks for your team. Studies have shown that employees are motivated when they are at least a 50% chance of achieving a goal.
As per the SMART criteria, goals should be realistic and attainable. If they are too simple, employees will not be motivated enough, and if too difficult, will frustrate and burn them out. Resource management solutions can help avoid allocating under and over skilled resources on tasks. Instead it helps assign resources on projects based on their skill, qualification, experience, etc.
To ensure transparency, once the goals are set, it is imperative to measure them against the expectations. Analysis of forecasted time (from bookings) against the actual time spent (from timesheet) helps to make better allocation decisions in the future. Besides, actionable insights via various reports on these solutions, reveal resource utilization against their capacity. Accordingly, the right resourcing treatments can minimize the over and underutilization of remote team members.
4) Encourage team communication and collaboration
For effective transparency in remote work, team communication and collaboration plays a significant role. According to Gallup, transparency builds stability, trust, compassion, and hope among remote workers. Remote work communication has become easy, thanks to the multitude of video conferencing and chat channels available in the market. As several companies are slowly opening the office doors, some employees have resumed office while others are still working remotely. Communicating or collaborating efficiently between employees at the office and remote team to deliver work faster, can be quite challenging.
Remote collaboration tools can enhance communication within a distributed workforce. So, irrespective of people working from home or office, visibility enables efficient collaboration in real-time. Besides, visibility enables work allocation based on employee’s skills and interests, which also boosts engagement and productivity.
5) Hire the right candidates who can work independently
Transparency in telecommuting is far more effective when the remote team comprises suitable candidates. It is essential to hire the right employees who can carry responsibilities remotely. When remote employees are knowledgeable, they are more likely to feel secure and stable, which is essential for their day-to-day performance. Hiring a remote worker is not quite the same as recruiting an in-office superstar.
Instead of fitting a square peg into a round hole, employers should tailor hiring efforts as per the virtual workforce’s needs. Employing a remote worker is much more than just looking for skill sets. One should consider soft skills like self-sufficiency, discipline, self- motivation, organizational, and scheduling. Experience is another crucial deciding factor. A fresher will need some hand holding and a longer onboarding time than someone having years of experience. Analyzing these parameters, organizations can make the right hiring choices for a remote team.
Forecasting skill shortages required for future and pipeline projects can help make informed decisions on training/reskilling employees, hiring, or creating a contingent workforce. Employees’ skills, qualifications, experience, among other vital information, pooled within a central repository are visible to all the hiring decision makers. This transparency enables the identification of highly skilled and experienced resources who can mentor and train junior employees.
If organizations can foster transparency, their remote teams can thrive. Summing up from the points mentioned above, remote work tools and management solutions can improve the productivity of remote workforce by enhancing transparency.