You’re not alone. Because of COVID-19, just about every business (SaaS included) has switched to a remote work setup. At the start of the pandemic, 88% of the businesses surveyed in this study asked or required that their employees work from home. But now, even though certain restrictions have eased, many SaaS teams have decided to go remote for good. This study found that 74% of companies plan to shift to remote work permanently post-COVID-19.
There are a lot of great reasons to go remote, including:
- Less overhead – You won’t need to maintain an office lease or pay utilities for a shared office space
- More productivity – Studies have shown that remote workers are more efficient at completing tasks
- Less turnover – Remote workers are typically happier with their jobs and less likely to seek alternative employment
But for all of its benefits, there are some things to consider when shifting to a remote work environment, such as:
- Not for every personality type – Some people don’t work well in semi-isolation and crave the traditional setup
- The question of productivity – It can be challenging to track your team’s progress through a project when you can’t see them in action
All things considered, the benefits of working remotely outweigh the cons, but that doesn’t mean that you should transition without a plan. In this post, we’ll help you transition to a remote work environment with ease.
Proven Techniques for Managing Remote Teams
Here’s how to manage your remote team so that morale is high and churn is low:
Create Work Processes
A work process is a set of steps that you take to complete a goal. Your team needs to know the expected work process to meet every objective. In the shift to working remotely, the way that you do things will likely change. Update your procedures to reflect your remote work setup, and be sure to notify your team of these updates. It’s also a good idea to document your work processes on a knowledge base for easy reference.
Maintain Your Company’s Culture
It’s difficult to maintain your company’s culture when you’re working remotely. In a traditional setup, you can display your company’s personality quite literally. Everything from office decor to management attitude makes your culture more tangible in an onsite workspace. However, when you’re online, you’ve got to put in extra work to communicate your company’s unique personality to your team.
To do this effectively, decide on the following with your management team:
- What tone of “voice” you’ll use to communicate with your team members
- Which traditions you’ll incorporate to build team spirit (i.e. “photo Friday”)
- How (and how often) you’ll reward team members for meeting objectives
Value Your Team
Piggybacking off of that last point, it’s essential that your now-distributed team feels just as valued as they would in a traditional office setup. It’s incredibly easy to overlook team members when you don’t see them every day. Providing positive, frequent encouragement and giving them the space to share any concerns will make your team feel validated.
Be intentional and generous with your accolades. Let your team know that you appreciate them often.
Focus on Communication
Communication is important in any work environment but it’s critical in a remote setup.
If there are holes in communication, your team’s overall productivity will take a nosedive. Model good communication habits to and for your team.
Another benefit of constant communication is that it reduces the dreaded feeling of isolation that many remote workers suffer from.
Decide which tools you’ll use to stay in contact with your team. Some teams prefer email, some prefer instant messaging apps like Slack or Hipchat, and others prefer a mix of the two.
It’s a good idea to limit the number of communication channels that your team uses. Otherwise, you may miss a message that was left in a lesser-used app. Plus, checking various communication channels is overwhelming and a waste of time.
As good as email and chat are, they’re no match for that face-to-face feeling. This is why you should incorporate video into your remote work setup. Video is the next best thing to being there in-person and sometimes, it’s better.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, remote teams can see each other every single day. Use tools like Zoom, Loom, or Google Meet to visually connect with your team members. Zoom allows for synchronous (i.e. real-time) communication while Loom allows you to record video messages of yourself and/ or your screen. Both Zoom and Loom (I like that they rhyme) work together to create a more face-to-face experience for your remote team. (Google Meet is a completely free alternative to Zoom, but Zoom’s basic plan is also free and pretty robust.)
Set Up a Watercooler Thread
In addition to work communication, give your team a place to discuss non-work related topics. Set up a watercooler thread on your chat app. On this thread, ask team building questions to prompt activity and engagement. This encourages your team to learn more about each other and think about something other than work. We’re not robots. We need to be social, too. A watercooler thread makes that happen.
Here are a few questions/ prompts that you can borrow:
- What’s your favorite trip?
- Where were you born?
- What’s your best holiday memory?
- What’s your favorite food?
- Share a joke.
- Upload a picture of your pet.
- What’s on your bucket list?
- What’s your favorite quote?
- What’s your favorite TV show?
- Share your favorite hobby.
Use Collaboration Tools
To make a remote environment work, you must use collaboration tools. The exact tools you’ll need will depend on your industry and unique demands.
Need to organize your projects? Try Trello or ClickUp.
Need to collaborate on documents? Try Google Docs or Bit.
Need to share files? Try Box or Dropbox.
Need to work on wireframes together? Try Figma or InVision.
There’s an ever-expanding list of collaboration tools available for remote teams. Use ProductHunt to find new and popular apps that you can use with your team.
Encourage Healthy Boundaries
When you work from home, the line between personal life and work life is often blurred. Set office hours to establish a work/ life balance for both you and your team. Don’t expect or require team members to work extended hours or on weekends/ holidays simply because they’re working from home. Overwork leads to burnout, and it can sneak up on you even in a remote work environment.
Do Weekly Feedback Calls
Frequent feedback is important for your team. Every team member should know what they’re doing well and what they can improve upon. It’s easier to do this in person, which is why you must be intentional in a remote work environment. Schedule weekly (yes, weekly) one on one meetings with each of your team members so that you can stay updated with their progress.
It’s not necessary to conduct a lengthy meeting each week. A quick, 10-minute checkup is all that you need to keep the lines of communication open.
Working remotely offers more benefits than drawbacks. By implementing the above management tips, you’ll be able to create a virtual office environment that’s productive, rewarding, and successful at meeting your business objectives.
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