You’d be hard pressed to find a business whose employees haven’t tried, at least once, working remotely. Most companies already had some form of remote working capability before the COVID-19 outbreak, with staff occasionally taking the opportunity to work from home because of illness or family issues.

Although some forward-thinking companies had a remote workforce model before the start of the pandemic, this model had never been fully tested for all staff, all the time. The result is that thousands of business owners and managers lacked the necessary experience to lead a workforce remotely, or knew what remote working model worked well. These are our top five tips:

Check in; don’t harangue

As tempting as it may be to keep checking in on employees, in order to make sure that they are working hard and not watching Netflix, you have to trust your staff. Rather than constantly bombarding them with messages, schedule one-on-one meetings, weekly or bi-weekly, with team members to determine their progress and development, and to determine how you can help them to overcome any challenges that they may have.

Keep collaborating

Even though you and your employees are not physically in the same workspace–you can still keep working together. Whether you’re using Asana, which helps teams to organise, track and manage their work, or Microsoft Teams, which enables staff members to share and to edit documents, appropriate systems must be in place so that employees can work together seamlessly.

Set expectations

Remote working requires clarity from both employer and employees. Achieve this by creating and implementing simple guidelines. Employees need to know how to update their diary, to schedule calls/meetings and to block out times when they aren’t available. Deadlines need to be set as milestones and expectations need to be clearly explained.

Video is key

Misunderstanding an email is common because tone and intonation may be unclear. If you believe that your email is unclear–don’t send it. Instead, pick up the phone or, even better, schedule a video call. Seeing each other’s faces makes a huge difference. You can much more easily resolve issues this way without potentially creating additional conflicts.

Consider virtual engagement

Whether you start running virtual coffee breaks, share play-lists or schedule evening quizzes, you should remember that you need to engage your team on a personal level. Appoint a ‘virtual team-building’ workforce and ask a member of the leadership team to attend all events.

A key component of successful remote working is having a dedicated unified communications system. For example, Cloudya, the telephone system from our partner NFON, allows businesses to continue communicating and collaborating wherever, whenever.

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