4 Best Practices For Managing A Remote Tech Workforce

By George Rau, Head of Human Resources at ScienceLogic

After one year of remote work, organizations have finally found their stride with keeping their operations afloat despite the many challenges from replacing spatial proximity with virtual tools. From coordinating call times that work across different time zones to keeping morale high while employees telework, managing a virtual team has introduced a series of barriers for companies that once relied on face-to-face interaction.

Successful pivots to virtual work – whether planned months in advance or in response to a global pandemic – require that managers be willing to recalibrate how they lead their people. This sort of mental leapis no simple overnight switchandnavigating the murky waters of change can be difficult formanagers with more of a traditional mindset.Fortunately, there are specific, inexpensive, and research-based steps that can be taken to improve the engagement and productivity of a remote workforce.

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Combatting “Zoom fatigue” with less meetings

As businesses continue to embrace more advanced remote trends, staying connected and maintaining channels for vibrant collaboration is imperative. The problem, however, is that employees are living in a “new normal” where they can no longer peek over into the next cubicle or slip down the hall to ask a colleague a quick question. The alternative to a briefexchangeacross the conference room table is now a series of Zoom or Teams calls, which can quickly cause even the highest performer to experience burnout.

For remote teams, it may take a little extra effort and creativity to reestablish such communication. We’ve replaced the “water cooler” chats and “break room encounters” with a series of meetings.  Managers can alleviate zoom fatigue by adapting better meeting protocols such assetting crisp agendas, determining the necessity for a meeting, and finding alternate methods to communicate.  By implementing shorter virtual huddles via audio chats or one “no meeting day” throughout the week or month, companies can boost morale, empower employees to get caught up, encourage greater productivity andgive employees a break from their virtual conferencing screens.With these policies, companies can empower employeesto innovate, execute tasks, and have time to do the things that sometimes fall to the wayside during a busy work week.

Alternative virtual tools such as Microsoft Teams chats or Clubhouse can also provide workers with the real-time accessibility needed to communicate without the added pressure of sittingin front of a camera.

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Reevaluating core values to cultivate the“Freedom to perform”

Some forms of telework are likely to persist long after conquering COVID-19, and companies will need to revisit their core values and policies to further empower success. With more businesses opting to maintain a hybrid office structure, studies show that greater productivity can be fostered when relying less on prescribed interactions and empowering teams to execute in the best way that works for them instead. Ultimately, by giving employees the “freedom to perform,” companies can grant more autonomy for employees to produce high-quality work without office distractions.

Integration and crowdsourcing feedback to inform decisions

In navigating these uncertain times with your workforce, using data to inform long-term decisions and make changes to your hybrid remote work policy can make all the difference. Not only can this help show that you’re listening to your employees and willing to make the necessary changes, but it can also reveal blind spots that you may not have been privy to beforehand. Forward thinking companies have mastered ways to gain these insights to inform decision-making better by leveraging “pulse meetings” and employee surveys as a means to gauge staff morale, address areas of concern, and crowdsource staff-wide employee feedback via tools such as SurveyMonkey.

Assimilating new hires via mentorship and “boot camps”

Additionally, the pandemic has forced companies to reconsider how to tackle onboarding new hires while working from home. As more organizations embrace borderless recruiting, remote employees from various geographical areas are more prone to suffer from isolation and lack of personal connection with team members. The best way to overcome this challenge is by gathering the team quarterly to ensure new hires can assimilate, connect names to faces, and get acquainted with team members.Successful companies recognize that the employee journey starts well before they get their employee badge. Conveying an environment that is fun, flexible, community-oriented and on the cutting of edge of technology is imperative to attracting top talent.  This importance is magnified when companies consider that their recruiting efforts are reaching local, national, and global talent pools.

Studies have found that up to 20% of all new hires resign within the first 45 days of their role. By implementing virtual training classes in the form of “onboarding boot camps” and assigning senior-level mentors to recent recruits, companies can bring new employees up-to-speed on company protocols, best practices, and tools.In today’s new era of remote hiring, never has the phrase, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” been so important.

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Preparing for a hybrid future of work

Experts can’t predict where the pendulum will settle as it pertains to remote work. But as companies proceed to downsize to hybrid-style WeWork environments, we can anticipate the traditional office will become more of an asset or resource rather than an everyday necessity. Instead, it will be a place designed to support collaboration and flexible work schedules.  With this in mind, employers will need to put a lot of thought into the long-term solutions and best practices to support their hybrid work environments.    But ultimately, companies embracing the flexibility, increased productivity, and speed that remote working will continue to prosper in the “new normal”.  The really smart companies will find that their success is based on how well their work environments are set up to empower their employees and, on the durability,and adaptability of their communication and collaboration capabilities.

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