January 25, 2022
Work from home is here to stay!
Remote and hybrid work have emerged as the preferred formats worldwide. Remote employees make up anywhere from 5.3% (those who typically work from home) to nearly two-thirds (who work remotely ever) of the US workforce.
And this percentage is only set to increase, with 97% of employees confessing they don’t want to return to the office full-time.
Working from home has its share of advantages. It saves hours of commuting time, imparts flexibility, and enables employees to balance work with other areas of life.
But it also presents unique challenges for teams. Boundaries between home and office get blurred, distractions are inescapable, connectivity and collaboration suffer. Also, we are really tired of asking if our colleagues can see our shared screens and if they could mute themselves.
So, what can teams do to leverage all the benefits of remote work without having to contend with its many challenges on a daily basis?
We recommend these ten shortcuts to make sure that remote works like clockwork for you and your team.
We get it. Zoom fatigue is real.
But so is the lack of office camaraderie that emerges from watercooler chats, common lunchtimes, and shared Friday night celebrations.
Remote work can create a disconnect between teams and managers. The absence of face-to-face supervision may lead to misunderstandings and reduce motivation. More so if employees feel their team members are not supportive and communicative.
Regular virtual all-hands meetings help rekindle communication that keeps everyone aligned around the shared company vision. Catching up together fosters feelings of trust, transparency, and belongingness within the organization.
Managers can simplify access to meetings for remote workers and reduce the everyday hassle of searching for links by replacing long meeting room URLs with easy shortcuts such as o/allhands.
Coordinating workflows present a challenge particularly for remote teams. They find it difficult to get to know their colleagues well. Creating and updating a shared organizational chart or employee directory can solve this problem without much effort.
Maintaining a comprehensive Airtable or spreadsheet o/directory with all employee information can help put faces and stories to what’s otherwise just an overwhelming list of names.
Further, employees can quickly look up an email id or phone number they may not know or may have forgotten. It spares them the unnecessary back and forth of pinging other team members for information that is readily available centrally.
One of the biggest hurdles remote teams have to navigate to get things accomplished is the lack of access to information. It is surprising how much added time and effort is often needed to locate information from coworkers, when you are not working in the same physical space.
To avoid frustration and cut down on noise, teams may find it helpful to track and manage projects together. With infinite project management tools such as Trello, Asana, Jira, Linear, Basecamp, Monday.com and more out there today, collaboration is possible even across time zones.
For a frictionless experience, consider creating a simple shortcut to current week’s priority tasks at o/weekly-priorities. Follow up on task-status in weekly standup meetings located at the easy-to-recall shortcut o/standup instead of the messy https://zoom.us/j/91005895405pwd=R2x1a2NtanlSMEl5dXNsdFhJ09#siccedfxgss
It’s important to establish and uphold work-life boundaries, especially while working remotely. Clear guidance and collaborative decision-making lead to fewer misunderstandings.
Rather than making untrue assumptions, team members should know when they can reach each other; managers should schedule appointments in advance to check in with the employees; and everyone should be on the same page as far as communication, work priorities, and success metrics go.
One simple Google Sheet that has come to our rescue in clarifying expectations around availability at OSlash is the o/on-call-schedule sheet. It specifies the names of the engineers and backup engineers and the number of hours they are available on-call through the week. We’ve easily saved a couple hours every week that would have otherwise gone into calls, chats, and emails centered around assigning the on-call responsibilities.
Lack of an office setup tends to be one of the most prominent disadvantages of working remotely. Not every employee has access to state of the art equipment to get things done. The consequences - frequent snags, lower productivity, dwindling motivation, and booming backlogs.
To help remote workers get the job done without snafus, make it easier for them to raise requests for the hardware and software they need. The shortcut o/it-requests can open a new Jira or Linear ticket that allows them to raise the request instantly.
Make sure no one has to wait endlessly for the right resources to get work done, wherever they might work from.
Remote workers are often bothered by everyday issues and tech malfunctions that don’t necessarily need intervention.
Rather than engaging in frequent back and forth with the IT department over simple, repeat issues, they can be pointed to an accessible document, o/troubleshoot-guide, that lists guidelines on tackling everyday problems in a self-service manner. These can include questions related to VPN connection, resetting login credentials, installing regular system updates etc.
We know onboarding a new employee can be a nightmare - both for the employee and the hiring manager.
Sharing dozens of documents about the business, tasks, responsibilities, login credentials, security policies, app links and what not can understandably be a hot mess. More so when the new hire is miles away.
New employees are often thrown into an ocean of links and repeated reminders to bookmark the important ones. It’s easy to get lost without the real-time support of colleagues.
Spare them the confusion by sharing just one link i.e the collection o/onboarding. It can contain all the information they need to find their place - o/security-policy on Notion, o/access on the SSO dashboard, o/directory for all the employee details and o/standup for the daily standup zoom link and timings (to name a few). Everything they need to start contributing right from day one, in one place.
A survey by Gallup shows motivated teams have upto 81% lower absenteeism rates and 43% lower employee turnover.
It therefore makes sense to keep updating employee benefits year on year at o/benefits, a central deck which lists all perks and their qualifying terms in a simple, clear, and precise manner. Regular updates and additions that employees can review any time makes for a wonderful motivator to stay on the job and keep contributing at work.
This can be incredibly useful for remote employees. It saves them time spent on the back and forth with HR, going over and clarifying the fine print of the benefits policy. And it saves your HR the headache of answering the same questions over and over again.
Quick tip: Simplify complex benefits/benefit programmes like health insurance, life insurance, ESOPs etc. by creating explainer slides or guides that can be referred to easily at o/insurance, o/esop-policy etc. o/leave-policy.
We know you need copious amounts of data to figure out what worked and what failed, what can be optimized, what has to be discarded, and what’s next.
What if your remote team did not have to jump between documents to locate all this data?
Bring all critical numbers together for a comprehensive analysis with the shortcut o/okr directing to your OKRs in Tableau, Google Sheets, Excel, Amplitude or wherever else you track performance metrics.
Don’t leave data scattered across applications and links. Consolidate and communicate to keep everyone on the same page, focus on what’s important, and improve performance.
Since remote employees use a variety of constantly evolving digital tools and technologies to work, it is necessary to train them in making the best use of such tools. Training can also help familiarize them with the company culture and best practices more quickly, speeding up their integration with the organization.
Moreover, companies need to evolve and keep pace with changing trends to retain and nurture good performers. Attractive packages are not enough; employees seek professional development as well.
With a plethora of Learning Management Systems available for imparting skill training in various domains and at various levels, these needs can easily be met. Make training programmes simpler to locate and access at o/trainings so that your employees can upskill without hassle, no matter whether you choose O’Reilly, Udemy, Coursera, PluralSight, EdX or some other platform.
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