Technology and high-speed Internet connections have made it possible to implement and manage a remote staff at your organization. The benefits of hiring and maintaining a remote staff include being able to expand your talent pool outside of your home office as well as increasing workforce productivity.
Without a daily commute and the need to conduct business from a stationary office, employees can work more efficiently and in real time. The business also saves money by needing far less office space for the workforce. The following are best practices for a virtual team if you are considering implementing a remote work staff or you want to improve the productivity and efficiency of your current remote team.
Evaluate Job and Task Responsibilities
Before you can implement a remote team, you must determine what tasks and jobs can be done remotely. Not all positions are remote friendly, like a customer-facing receptionist. However, many jobs and daily operations can be moved to the virtual team. Working virtually also means having the right technology in place.
Evaluate Your Current Technology and Invest in Remote Options
Hardware: BYOD or Company Issue?
Technology is an important part of the implementation process and a review of your company’s tech needs is an important part of designing a winning remote strategy. While some employers are open and encourage the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach, this may not be the best solution for remote staff. First and foremost, not all devices are equal in a BYOD environment. Some people may choose to use an older laptop or tablet that is not fully compatible with the company’s software. Operating systems also convolute the situation and make it difficult for IT to troubleshoot effectively. Second, not all devices may safeguard your company’s data, and employees who work remotely are always looking for more natural and faster ways of managing data.
If your company wants to implement a BYOD policy for remote workers, a list of specific devices, operating systems, and versions should be provided to your work staff so managing the multitude of devices will be easier for IT as well as compatible with software and networking while maintaining security protocols. However, it is far better to issue standalone devices to your remote staff that are used only for work and are maintained as company equipment with depreciation.
Software: Choosing the Right Tools
Technology also plays a significant role in how your remote employees connect to the private and public networks of your company. You will need to decide what type of remote connection you will support and how integrating that system is with all aspects of operations. Thoroughly investigate the differences between a VPN connection and virtualization and how these connections integrate with other software application, especially communication applications.
The Right Communication is Vital
Communication is key to the success of your virtual team, but it goes even farther than having all the right tools. You must humanize your communication, and the best way to do that is through video conferencing. With video conferencing, your team can meet team members and put a face to a name, which makes collaboration easier and more efficient. Additionally, sticking to weekly or bi-monthly virtual meetings and schedules will help keep your staff connected and accountable.
One of the biggest challenges of implementing a remote team is ensuring your staff remains productive and accountable for their work. Over time, you can measure the success of a remote team by performance indicators, such as sales generated, work completes, or through a quality review. You want to keep lines open with your employees and get their feedback as much as possible on how they perceive their remote roles and their views of success.
Additionally, you can implement remote monitoring to help with time and task tracking. Many times, remote monitoring systems have a built-in metrics to help gauge the success of your virtual team. Bring your remote worker into the conversation about accountability so they are not unaware of any monitoring or measurements of their work. This will help them stay happy and productive.
Let Your Team Grow Organically
You need structure and policy in place to implement a remote team, but you must also remember to be flexible and let the team grow organically. Virtual teams are innovative, and you will find employee feedback monumental in designing and managing remote staff. Get their opinions and be open to changes that benefit your virtual team and they will have increased motivation at work.
Whether you currently manage a remote team, or you are considering one, the right plan is always flexible and takes into account technology needs as well as security. Communication is the keystone of a great virtual team and helps to engage your staff as well as keep them accountable.