In a very short time, recent events have forced companies around the world to change the way they work. Sure, many organizations have offered some degree of remote work for several years, but being in a position where the entire workforce suddenly has to work from home is a challenge for even the most educated.
Remote work has gone from being a “nice to have” to an “essential”, and at least the new normal is now foreseeable, so business leaders must ask themselves: how can our organization stay productive, connected and happy?
About the Author
James Petter is International Vice President of Pure Storage.
Successful remote work requires a dual approach. First of all, companies need the right That infrastructure. Do employees have the necessary technology? Do they have the necessary software to join conference calls, download applications and access resources? Most importantly, have good security and business continuity practices, such as immutable backups, been implemented?
Second, successful remote work requires the most support from business leaders; And in uncertain times like today, employees need solid leadership more than ever. Good business leaders will naturally possess skills to manage employee reactions, drive timely project completion, and motivate teams, but these traits become even more powerful and crucial when the entire workforce is at a distance.
Let's take a look at these two factors in more detail and what it takes to effectively lead a remote workforce, both now and in the future.
Access to remote technology capabilities.
Remote working is not a new phenomenon, and some of us are already familiar with working outside the office, whether it be for international travel needs, flexible work practices, or attending events. However, what was once a gradual move toward more remote work is now a necessary change accelerated by COVID-19. Ultimately, this paradigm shift will challenge both large-scale companies that are already equipped to adapt to remote working conditions, and companies that are only exploring it as an option for the first time.
Businesses that operate well remotely will have implemented and tested technologies that can support 24-hour access, communication, and collaboration, as well as fast backup. They will also have reviewed safety approaches to integrated work. These factors are critical to maintaining business continuity when a crisis occurs and disperses employees, or even disconnects the workforce. Since many companies are already in the process of migrating to cloud computing environments, these measures are likely to ring a bell.
Maintain confidence in leadership.
In addition to technological capabilities, a good remote working strategy requires solid leadership; This will not only keep productivity levels high, but will also boost morale, which is definitely necessary in such difficult times.
In my role as International Vice President, I spend most of my time on a different continent than my colleagues, so I have grown accustomed to leading and managing remotely. Here are some tips that I've picked up along the way:
Individualize your approach
As always, being a good leader is about adapting your style to changing circumstances. This is even more imperative when managing employees remotely. Training workers from afar requires greater intent and a greater awareness of the unique requirements and conditions for which your team members perform best, in your specific region. A one size fits all approach will not deliver the best results.
Equip and inform
Although it may take a little more time in the short term, the productivity gains you will benefit from thoroughly informing your team in advance will save you much more time in the long run. Remote working means that you cannot converse as easily and openly as you would in an office environment. Be sure to take enough time to inform your team thoroughly to allow them to take action, meet deadlines, and maintain quality standards without having to stop for regular follow-up questions.
Taking care of the morale and well-being of employees is vital, it is very easy for people to feel isolated at a time like this. A key way to help with this is constant communication. For example, I have a 15-minute recovery call with each of my country's leaders every week without fail, at a set time. It is important to create routine and connection.
Have a little face
Thank goodness for technology: Having a reliable video chat with a friend or colleague has never been easier. I would actively encourage it when possible. It has been argued that 93 percent of communication is non-verbal, so it is not something to be overlooked. Often you don't really feel like someone, like how much of a task you have understood, or just as important how well you are coping, just over the phone or email. Video calls are a great way to make up for this and stay better connected as people.
The reality is that recent global events mean that organizations have had to accelerate remote work policies much faster than they would have planned. Having an adaptable IT architecture is more important than ever. While technology will be crucial to maintaining business continuity across the organization, first consider how you can use technology to care for the most important part of your organization: people.