Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, all signs pointed to a remote work future. 83 percent of employees were already accustomed to working remotely at least part of the time, and 70 percent of young professionals viewed it unnecessary to go into the office.
While these stats are eye-popping, they don’t tell the full story. Working remotely is challenging in the best of times. To unlock the potential of remote work, leaders must put the proper processes in place, embrace the right mindset, and empower their workers with effective workplace tools.
ringDNA—which provides a solution that empowers salespeople with technology and insights that help them become great conversationalists and create great customer experiences—is one of many companies grappling with how to empower its workforce for remote work. ringDNA’s founder, Howard Brown—a three-time successful entrepreneur—recently shared his top tips for how to adapt to a remote work reality. 100 percent of ringDNA’s workforce is now working remotely.
1. Avoid too much change.
Remote work is an unfamiliar transition for many people. Howard recommends keeping current processes, applications, and tools in place and limiting additional transitions to the extent possible. Employee wellbeing should come first. After that, Howard recommends keeping meeting cadence the same, ensuring that processes around project management change as little as possible, and prioritizing transparency about all decisions.
One change that is worth making relates to workplace communication and work management tools. Howard recommends selecting tools that empower teams to adjust seamlessly to remote working without needing to learn new processes.
2. Prioritize visibility and accountability.
Transitioning to remote work can make people feel more fragmented and separated from their work and teams. To combat this, Howard recommends that leaders set clear and visible expectations of goals and progress so that everyone feels more accountable and understands how their work relates to broader company objectives. For Howard, workplace management tools such as Asana that are easy to use are more important than ever before in ensuring that remote work does not mean disconnected work.
Above all, it’s important to create an atmosphere where everyone feels safe and supported so that teams can continue to celebrate wins together and use missteps as learning or coachable moments.
3. Maintain work culture.
It can be difficult to maintain a strong work culture when working remotely. Think carefully about how your tools, systems, and processes can help foster a strong culture. Use video instead of phone or chat to best replicate an in-office environment. When video is enabled, 82% of users are less likely to multitask as compared to just audio.
Leverage channels like Slack frequently to ensure lines of communication between teammates are always open. Keep the social energy alive by sharing pictures of children or pets at home, sharing music, or even hosting virtual happy hours.
Use remote tools to champion creative expression. Encourage using customized Zoom backgrounds, for example. In the past few weeks, ringDNA’s team members have joined meetings on virtual spaceships, in alien gardens, and even in the Oval Office.
Don’t forget recognition. Instead of offering in-office kudos to recognize good work, create virtual prizes such as digital gift cards to reward strong performance and increase team motivation. At ringDNA, for example, employees give each other praise via the company’s “mad props” Slack channel, as well as shout-outs in virtual meetings. With everyone spending more time at home, gift cards for virtual entertainment such as movies, music, or food delivery are more valuable than ever. Whatever form rewards take, it’s important to continue to foster a culture of joint celebration—it goes a long way towards keeping teams connected and inspired.
We’re navigating uncertain waters. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for remote work in the best of times, there are several strategies you can embrace to set your workers up for success, professionally and personally. Howard recommends that leaders be supportive. As this health crisis unfolds and impacts the economy, it’s critical to realize that everyone has a lot of different stressors. Make sure to check-in and take care of your employees and teammates. Ask how they are doing, and have compassion for any anxiety or fear they are experiencing.