As more of the global workforce continue to work from home in a bid to self-isolate/quarantine, many companies and employers have had to adapt to managing a remote workforce. In a bid to help employers who are not used the world of remote working, John Williams, Head of Marketing at flexible working specialists Instant Offices discusses how businesses can overcome the typical challenges of managing a remote team and build a healthy company culture outside the office.
Although three-quarters of companies worldwide have already switched to flexible working options, with 83% reporting a boost in productivity, constant remote working is something that many workplaces haven’t developed the infrastructure for.
However, 2020 stats show the number of people working from home has grown by 140% since 2005, and telecommuting has increased by 115% in the past 10 years. An Owllabs study show globally, 8% of employees work remotely on a full-time basis, while 52% work from home at least once a week. The trend looks set to continue – Upwork predicts that 73% of all departments will have remote workers by 2028.
The numbers speak for themselves:
- 75% of people say working remotely means fewer distractions.
- 86% say it reduces stress.
- 76% would be more willing to stay in their current job if offered more flexibility.
- 21% would give up some of their vacation time in exchange for flexible working options.
- Companies that allow remote work have 25% lower staff turnover than companies that don’t.
The growth of this trend has been fuelled by technology, including the rapid increase of mobile tech, communication and project management platforms. The rapid growth of Wi-Fi hotspots is likely to hit 432.5 million globally this year, and there will be 1.2 billion 5G connections globally by 2025, covering one-third of the world’s population.
For many workers, increased connectivity in personal and work lives has made the transition into remote working a relatively easy one. By streamlining work processes in this way, the team can be more professional, productive and efficient in the long run.
Regardless of times of uncertainty, having a remote-working team can help reduce the stress of members of staff who want to self-isolate, which will also reduce the chance of in-office infection. However, along with the benefits, there are some challenges to managing remote teams:
Communication – Getting people in different locations to work together for a common goal can be tricky. That said, the Internet has provided many powerful tools to assist with communication and collaboration in today’s modern workplace.
Keeping track of activities, goals and productivity – Not everyone can work effectively in a remote location. In remote settings, employees must know how to manage themselves and often wear different hats. It is therefore important to ensure team members are aware of the company’s long-term and short-term goals.
Growing Company Culture with a Remote Team
Choose tools that match your culture - Because all communication and collaboration will be done using online tools, it is essential to choose apps and software that match the culture you are trying to create. If you want to create a fun, laid-back environment, choose tools that match this atmosphere. You also want to make it as easy as possible for your remote team to stay up-to-date. Be it via video conferencing tools, chat apps, or the comments section of your project management tool, you need to offer various ways to keep in touch and on top of the work.
Team building - Team building does wonders to foster communication, especially among remote workers who do not see each other on a daily basis. While people are self-isolating it’s still possible to be social with platforms such as Skype or Zoom for group messaging and video chats for a light-hearted catch-up to see how everyone is.
Recognition - Public recognition for a job well done is one of the most effective and most natural ways to motivate a remote team. Shout outs in a team chat, during meetings or any other way, will not only boost morale and motivation but set a standard for other team members to strive for.
John Williams says “Increased flexibility benefits businesses and employees, and top talent has already sought out organisations that encourage and support teams working from home, coworking spaces or coffee shops. There’s plenty of data to back up the benefits of working remotely so work will continue even with the challenges ahead. With planning, open lines of communication and the right tech, there’s no reason why companies can’t run successful remote teams for short periods or even integrate more into their future approach on a permanent basis.”
Tools to Help Remote Teams Thrive
- Slack – a popular web and desktop chat tool.
- Skype – global audio and video platform.
- Google Hangouts – Google’s chat platform.
- HomeSlice – a time zone viewer.
- Wrike – one of the leading cloud-based solutions for collaborative work management.
- Trello – an online visual planning and collaboration tool for virtual workgroups.
- Asana – An online management tool to quickly capture tasks, to-dos, reminders, and ideas.
- Zoom – audio and video and online meetings made easy.