Remote team management, business continuity plans and collaboration platforms are all terms we’ve become highly familiar with over the past 18 months. As the business world opens back up, it’s time to reconsider the future of the workplace. The prevailing thought is hybrid workforce models are here to stay according to the research compiled by FlexJobs. We’ve embraced that philosophy at 10Fold with two days of in-office collaboration and team members working remotely otherwise. And the results are positive!
However, we, like other firms, still face the challenges of working with a remote – and geographically dispersed – team. Over my career, I’ve experienced different workplace scenarios from full time in the office to hybrid to complete remote; with teams only in Boston or spread across the globe. For managing these teams, I fell back on the lessons I learned from being a parent of twins. Organization is key to managing it all – which holds true in the business world too! These five tips have helped me manage people in many different locations and maintain my sanity.
Implement clear communication and goal setting
Share with your teams exactly what needs to be done, by when and with full details on all projects and tasks. It may seem silly, but repeating these steps ensures all are on the same page. Overcommunicating avoids misunderstandings. In our house, there is monthly calendar posted in the kitchen and activities are also discussed the night before anything happens so the excuse of “I didn’t know” can (almost) never be used.
At 10Fold, we utilize detailed Role & Responsibilities document for each account alongside our MetricMatters Scorecards, internal and external SLAs, and the Microsoft To Do SaaS application that can be installed on laptops and on phones to ensure all responsibilities and deliverables (along with deadlines) are tracked. It is clear communication, goal setting and defining the outcomes needed that keeps our teams fully aligned and builds a sense of unity regardless of location.
Embrace technology platforms
In today’s digital world, smartphones and apps ensure you can be connected from about any location whether it is working from the car, coffee shop or basketball court.
Zoom and Slack easily replace the in-office water cooler conversations, the sharing of pet (or kid) photos and give teams a way to collaborate. Additionally, Google Workspace and Microsoft Teams promote file sharing and real-time teamwork that removes the geographic barriers and brings everyone together. We embrace all methods of communication across all these platforms, in addition to text, email and phone, to engage with both clients and each other. Our team has perfected using different audience views in Teams and the Emojis to celebrate big team and individual wins in Zoom and slack.
Keep it face-to-face
Turn on your cameras! It’s a simple solution that furthers the level of connection with your teammates. Non-verbal communication is very important to seeing if everyone is engaged. Discourage multi-tasking – when you are on a call – whether internal or external – be professional in manner, dress and paying attention to the matter at hand. Think of it like the dinner table conversations at home where electronics must be put away and real face-to-face interactions happen. Even if it results in the patented teenager eyeroll, it builds better relationships.
Build a personalized culture
We’ve seen companies force engagements through mandatory virtual happy hours with stilted conversations or awkward lunch sessions. While done with the best intentions, they harm the culture more than help it. Rather take a few minutes on internal teams calls to check in with them personally. You already have their attention so use it for non-work-related conversations. Think of it like you have your child captive in the car when driving them to their next activity – start a conversation that will uncover small (and large) details.
At 10Fold, we are continuously looking at new ways to build our virtual culture – whether through our daily Huddles, sharing TAFFIs on Friday, implementing new processes from our Ideas Council and more. We have embraced having fun too with remote Zoom events such as making ice cream together and beer and cheese tastings that have driven us to interact outside the world of PR.
Remaining flexible – life happens!
Most importantly, the key is that team members remain flexible and accepting when things come up at the last minute. As most parents can relate, those unexpected calls from the school nurse to pick up a sick child can interrupt carefully laid plans during the workday. The same holds true if your pet decides it is time to explore the local neighborhood by themselves or a tree limb crashes on a power line. Life happens. Be flexible and understanding as your team member struggles to juggle the new event alongside their work expectations.
Regardless of your work environment now and into the future, these five tips will assist in driving greater involvement across your teams. And, most importantly, know that this is not an infinite list. Experiment with other advice to find the right method for your team at that time. The 10Fold team is continuously striving to improve our collaboration methods to unite our virtual teams into one cohesive agency.