Your small to medium-sized business is most likely, like most businesses in the Buffalo/Rochester area, suffering the effects of closures and restrictions due to COVID19. Many businesses have made the shift to remote work, and some have closed their doors entirely. This will pass, however, and you will once again be ready for business as usual. In the meantime, you need strategies for successfully handling employees working remotely in Rochester and Buffalo, New York (or anywhere else).
Here are six tips to keep your remote teams productive and happy.
1. Stay Connected
Just because your teams are working from home doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t, or can’t, stay connected. Try Teams, which is currently offered free regardless of your Office 365 subscription status, or Zoom for video conferencing.
Remember that video conferencing is far more than dull, routine daily meetings. Use this valuable tool to arrange office “parties” and “happy hours” to increase the bonding amongst your teams.
Make sure you have VoIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, for your teams. This allows them to make high quality phone calls over the computer using their high-speed internet connection. This cloudless connection means they can call and connect with any coworker, wherever they are.
2. Working Remotely in Rochester and Buffalo Isn’t the Same for Everyone
Some of your team may already have had the perfect work-from-home setup prior to the lockdown orders, but many didn’t. This means your teams can be working at the kitchen table, on the living room couch, or from a corner desk in a cluttered dining room.
It’s hard to let go of the idea that employees who have less than conventional set-ups are not productive. Some employees may have distractive things going on during your meetings; animals making an appearance, small children popping in and out of the room, and spouses making lunch or coffee in the background are some funny current trends on social media right now.
Remember, your employees’ lifestyles aren’t the same as yours. What you consider distracting is “just another day in the life” of your team members. If you look closer, you’ll see that the flurry of activities surrounding your employees do not phase them. They have learned to focus in their environment, and it’s this comfort zone that allows them to work naturally and productively.
The positive side to remote work in Rochester and Buffalo is that teams get a closer look at the “real world” of coworkers. Don’t consider distractions, especially during meetings, a bad thing. These experiences are the things that will bond your teams and bring them even closer together.
3. Encourage Collaboration
Team members feel isolated when working remotely in Rochester and Buffalo New York for more reasons than lack of socialization with co-workers. Many will begin to feel isolated when performing job duties as well and begin to lose motivation or make mistakes they wouldn’t normally make.
Working together as part of a team is as important when working remotely as it is when working in the office. Using Teams and other Office 365 applications will allow your teams to work together and collaborate in real time.
4. Down with Meetings
There is an adage, “too many meetings, not enough doing.” It’s hard for supervisors to let go of the reins but working remotely is not a reason to start scheduling endless meetings. You will find your meetings becoming less productive the more you have them or the longer they are. You will also sense resentment from your team and a lack of communication amongst your employees during the meeting. Your employees don’t want meetings, they want to do their jobs.
Funnel your meetings from several per day to one daily and one longer meeting per week. Integris likes to use Traction L10 tools for weekly meetings and 15Five for routine one-on-one meetings.
If you need more encouragement to let your employees work without the constant “meeting” distraction, take this into consideration: it takes employees and average of 25 minutes to get back on track after each distraction. This means your meetings may last an hour but will cause nearly an hour and a half of lost productivity…each.
5. Recognize Employees’ Efforts
When your teams were together in the office, it was easy to spot exemplary work. With your employees working from home, it gets a little harder to see the work that goes on behind the scenes to complete projects.
Remember that you can’t always see the steps taken throughout the project’s journey to completion, and that each project requires hours of work that you might not be able to spot. Keep your employees feeling appreciated by recognizing successful projects, due dates that have been met, and other important benchmarks throughout the week.
6. Keep Emails to a Minimum
Just as with meetings, no employee wants to have their time taken by countless emails that require “immediate” responses. Emails are distractions, meaning that they, too, may require nearly 25 minutes before the employee is properly focused again.
Email distractions can be limited if you:
- Limit the number of emails and try to cover several things in one email
- Avoid asking for immediate responses unless it is truly necessary
- Remind employees to set aside a few times per day to check and respond to all emails rather than checking them as they come in
- Avoid group emails if possible
- Set the priority of the email in the subject line so employees understand if it is truly urgent or if it can wait
For other tips on managing your email strategies, check out this post.
Making the Best of Remote Work in Rochester and Buffalo
Remember, this crisis will pass. It’s important to allow your employees the freedom and productivity they really need to thrive in their temporary work-from-home environment.
It’s predicted that nearly 30% of small to medium-sized business may choose to keep some jobs either entirely remote or a telecommuting hybrid. The reasons you may choose to let your employees continue working remotely can vary but will likely include saving money on office space rental and utilities and increased employee productivity and happiness.
Integris has been helping small to medium-sized businesses set up for working remotely in Rochester and Buffalo throughout the crisis and will continue helping businesses long afterward. To find out how Integris can help your small to medium-sized business’ remote workforce flourish, contact us for a free, no obligation consultation today.