COVID-19 is a deadly virus that has taken the world by storm. The notorious Corona Virus Disease causes respiratory failure and can spread from person to person via closed contact.
The first positive case of the Corona Virus was recorded in Wuhan, one of China’s major cities and commercial hubs, which became ground zero for the COVID-19 outbreak. Though there are many conspiracy theories reflecting on the origin of the virus, there is no solid evidence of what caused the outbreak.
COVID-19 outbreak has affected 196 countries and territories so far with China, Italy, United States, Spain and Germany leading the charts. There is no cure for the disease, the best you could do is cheer for your immune system to beat the virus.
The world has taken a huge toll this time and the situation is getting worse every day. Since there is no cure for the disease and it spreads via close contact, companies have closed their workplace operations and embraced work from home culture.
The WFH Culture
Work from home or remote employment has become one of the fastest-growing trends in the business world that doesn’t seem to hit the brakes any time soon. With the startup culture on the rise, companies turn to employees that work off-site, in the field or even on the other side of the world as a means to widen their network and cut on the labor costs.
Fascinating as it may sounds, it is not an easy transition, especially for companies that have to manage hundreds of teams and thousands of employees working from home. Though this issue is not limited to global conglomerates, startups and small-medium enterprises also face challenges in managing teams in a WFH setting.
In this article, we would prescribe 10 commandments that might help you in managing your respective teams working remotely in a work from home environment midst COVID-19 outbreak.
1. Thou Shalt Have the Right People in WHF Setting
Not everyone is cut out for remote employment, although many think they are. When people start working from home, they expect flexible hours and manageable workloads. The reality check can hit them quite hard. So choose your team members carefully.
Not all people are self-starters, they need continuous guidance and rely on others to show them the way. People with such a mindset are less likely to perform in a work from home setting because working remotely often takes micro-management out of the equation.
Self-motivation is the key here, however, this doesn’t mean that you can do without encouragement on your part. Select workers who are capable of working under minimal supervision, as this often will be the case.
Trust is another strong element for success in working remotely. Since you would be thoroughly relying on the reports and status updates from people employed in a WFH setting, it is critical that the employees selected are trustworthy.
2. Thou Shalt Have a Plan
The struggle is real when managing team(s) working from home. It won’t be wrong to say that the remote team manager is, in essence, a juggler. The bigger the team, the harder it is to keep everything in check. The main paradox of remote team management is that you have to allow flexible hours yet maintain consistency. This is where you need a concrete plan before things fall apart.
It is highly recommended to have brainstorming sessions with your teams before going remote. Teams should be provided objectives that are to be achieved in a given time frame and a clear roadmap of how to achieve them. The same goes for developing task timelines and milestones of your work.
Your WFH shenanigans must be metrics-driven, as numbers give a much clearer assessment of how far in progress you are. There are tons of tools that can facilitate you in tracking your current progress and direction you are headed. WeekPlan helps you to review and analyze what has already been done and what needs further notice.
3. Though Shalt Communicate in WFH Culture
This one should go without saying. Communication is the cornerstone of your teamwork and success in a WFH setting midst COVID-19 outbreak. Thanks to technology, communicating with people at great distances isn’t a problem. Even if people working from home remotely are operating in different time zones, find a suitable overlapping time and stick to it.
Find a good balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication. Make sure the team member is available at a specific time. It is best to schedule these conversations in advance. Be mindful of when to speak to your team as a whole and when to do it one on one.
Furthermore, think about the type of communication to use. Visual communication can work wonders but never at the expense of quick chat conversations. There are some amazing tools out there that can help you create workplace chat rooms and share documents with concerned stakeholders remotely.
4. Thou Shalt Embrace Technology in WFH Setting
Communication can be difficult when you lack the benefit of having face-to-face interactions. Fortunately, we live in an era of technology. With the help of tech, you can integrate different chat applications to your remote workplace. Not only this, but you can also clock WFH employee activities, schedule meetings, send task reminders and share documents via a secure connection.
Different companies prefer different communication tools. With recent technological developments, you will have no difficulties in finding the combination of tools and gadgets that are tailored to facilitate you in carrying out your work from home activities seamlessly.
5. Thou Shalt Set Clear Goals
It is vital to avoid any misunderstanding when you set objectives for your team. Since you are working remotely, face-to-face interactions are out of the equation. Therefore, you must all be on the same page before kicking things off.
Everybody should know exactly what are they doing and to what end. Define these goals both on the micro and macro level. This would minimize the noise and chaos accompanying the WFH transition. If your team needs to increase output, assign personal objectives and explain how these will contribute to reaching that goal.
The best way to do it is via task prioritization. While working remotely, focus on activities that are of high priority and have a greater impact. Set clearly defined goals, assign roles and clearly communicate responsibilities. To view your current standing, track your progress on a weekly basis and celebrate the small wins.
6. Thou Shalt Be Vigilant
Unlike the standard practices, there is no punch-in and punch-out system in working from home remotely. Employee attendance is replaced by tasks executed by an employee and his contribution to WFH culture.
To get the hang of things, remote team managers should always be aware of the team’s attendance, work output and hours worked by every employee. To facilitate this, there are different tools that can help managers in keeping track of employees’ availability and productivity in work from home settings.
7. Thou Shalt Provide Feedback
Team performance hinges on feedback, be it in a remote work environment or in an old school workplace culture. Agreed! A team working from home must consist of self-starters to succeed in the first place, but, we all need guidance every now and then. So, never refrain from providing feedback when required.
When you work in a shared office, you can simply stop by a desk and offer your input. Though, working from home is a bit different. WFH culture minimizes if not completed eradicates the process of giving feedback.
The best practice suggested in this regard is to have meetings via video chat. These meetings should be short and precise, unlike the ones we are used to. You should devise clear agendas for these meetings and keep them as simple as possible. The beauty of WFH culture is, you can offer feedback, get input from the team and act accordingly while sitting in your lounge sipping a cup of hot coffee.
8. Thou Shalt Remember the Purpose
Building team spirit is difficult as it is, working from home makes it a little more challenging. In WFH culture, people often forget about the feeling that they are a part of something greater. You must never take your eye off the ball. Keep reminding your team of the purpose. Spend some time periodically to recall the company’s mission and remind the team of their responsibilities.
9. Thou Shalt Build Trust
People tend to hold information for several reasons, be it personal grudges or office politics. However, such practices must not continue in a work from home setting. A WFH structure would crumble and fall without the trust among team members. So, it is highly recommended not to exclude anyone from important information. Share details about current happenings in the company, keep others informed and engaged, at all times.
10. Thou Shalt Be Appreciative
Working from home gives you a certain degree of freedom but it can often feel dispiriting. So, at times, you need positive reinforcement. Celebrating a team member’s birthday on a conference call, wishing them luck for a client meeting, rejoicing their work anniversaries and sending them virtual gift cards, small acts like these go a long way.
To spice things up, you can also set rewards for achieving certain milestones. Old school tactics like these work like a charm. It can literally be anything, because, at times, all your team needs is a positive gesture to lift their spirits – to make them go the extra mile.
Things are getting bad out there as thousands of deaths have been reported around the globe. Since there is no cure for COVID-19, social isolation is the only way to keep it at bay. To avoid the chaos accompanying the global pandemic, working from home seems to be the safest bet for companies.
In this article, we tried to come up with the best possible ways to help you stay productive in a work from home setting. And we hope that the commandments prescribed would take you one step closer to your desired objectives. Stay safe! Stay isolated!
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