Across the globe, companies have swiftly adopted remote work. While many had already been considering the switch (by implementing schedule flexibility or experimenting with work-from-home days), the current push toward remote work is unprecedented.
Different apps and software tools quickly took charge of the opportunity. During just one week in March, business conferencing apps experienced a record-breaking 62 million downloads.
Since then, many startups have found that collaborative tools don’t solely make sure their team stays connected; they also have great potential to help their businesses thrive.
From a leadership perspective, it’s important to understand how to leverage technology to make teams more efficient when working from home, but also to ensure that all team members still feel they’re a part of the team.
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If your startup is now managing a fully remote workforce, here are a few tips that will help your quarantined team stay connected while boosting its performance.
Promote transparent and effective communication
Switching to remote work offers a chance to assess the communication and management structure of your company. Take this opportunity to evaluate these aspects on both individual and organizational levels.
And fear not! The statistics are in your favor: according to Stanford University research, remote workers are 13 percent more productive than their in-office counterparts.
Start by reviewing your current operations. Engage in discussions with your team to understand which processes to keep and which ones to leave behind. If you decide to adopt new systems, make sure that these are always accompanied by policies governing their usage.
Remote work doesn’t give your team members a chance to tap on a colleague’s shoulder and ask for clarification, and every uncertainty or confusion results in inefficiencies. That’s why it’s crucial to prioritize standardization right from the start. If you don’t have a centralized communication hub like Slack, know that it’s essential. By recording all the important information and decision-making in one place, your entire team stays on the same page.
When looking to drive the efficiency of chat platforms, transparency is key. Keep communication open, maintain transparent calendars and encourage your team to keep their Slack status up-to-date. All daily interactions should be as practical as possible; know that not every point of discussion has to turn into a meeting, it can just be a task item in Asana.
Many startups juggle Google Docs and Dropbox files at the same time. In a remote setting, dispersed or disorganized documents only brings confusion. That’s why standardization should pervade all your processes, including document management.
Take advantage of powerful software
According to a 2019 survey, only 13 percent of companies reported using collaboration software. This is a missed opportunity, as adopting these tools can add a valuable competitive advantage. Technology has the potential to fully substitute in-person meetings and allows you to do even more – from real-time collaboration on analytics to powerful note-taking.
Depending on the focus of your startup, there are a plethora of tools to explore. Many offer free versions or trials, so make sure to experiment to see what works best. You can leverage some virtual whiteboarding tools like Mural to facilitate multi personal collaboration capabilities or turn to software like Notion when looking for a universal note-taking, task or pipeline management tool.
There may be many aspects that favor remote work, but the lack of space to develop personal relationships is a definite downside. Loneliness is a common issue for people working from home, and it can be further aggravated by the current crisis. Staying in touch with your immediate team is vital.
Even at a distance, it’s great to organize creative socializing events, such as virtual happy hours on Zoom. You can never go wrong with regular calls, workshops or presentations with your team, either, even when they aren’t necessarily related to work.
Another strategy you can try out is keeping a time slot on your calendar open when anyone can make an appointment to talk. Not only does this show that you’re open to communicate and answer any questions, it allows you to connect with your colleagues beyond daily Slack messages – especially if you have your camera on.
Thinking about how to support your remote team also pays off. Many people are using the extra free time to learn new skills, so you can offer to pay for their online courses to drive their self-improvement and have them present the new skills they’ve acquired to the company at a future lunch-and-learn.
Even before the pandemic, we could see startup work culture becoming remote, whether due to the desire of younger generations for a better life-work balance, the aim to decrease one’s ecological footprint, or the strategic decision to cut down costs related to renting an office.
By experimenting with this arrangement, you may find that it possesses many opportunities to benefit your business throughout the 2020s.
Originally published May 13, 2020.
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