Creating a Remote-First Work Environment for Team Members

Remote working is being adopted on a massive scale due to the recent crisis. As more companies let their employees work remotely, new approaches are needed to ensure effectiveness and maintain productivity. Working remotely is not without its challenges, after all.

Those who are used to working remotely can adapt to the new norm faster. Unfortunately, not all team members have that experience or ability to adapt. It is up to the company – the employer – to create a suitable environment that promotes remote productivity.

This is where the right tools and good values come in handy. There is a lot that can be done to prepare team members for remote working, and we are going to go through the best tips to get you started in this article.

Implement Project Management

Before you begin thinking about collaborative tools, video conferencing platforms, and other components, the first thing to tackle is project management. Project management sits at the core of remote teams. Even when everyone is working from different locations, they still need to know the tasks that they need to do and what everyone else is doing.

The Kanban system is one of the best approaches to implement in this situation. Since Kanban is very visual – with every task represented on the board as a card – it is much easier to organize a complex series of tasks and make sure that everyone is doing their job. Monitoring progress and collaborating on multiple tasks become easier too.

More importantly, digital Kanban boards are highly customizable. Tools like Trello and Asana can be tailored to your specific needs. You can have multiple processes and phases, customize the way cards are displayed, and even divide larger projects into folders and lists if needed. Cards can then be assigned to team members and tracked accordingly.

Communications Is Key

Providing multiple ways for team members to communicate is the next thing to do. Allowing team members to communicate with each other is only the beginning. In order to establish an effective remote working environment, you also have to add certain elements to the mix, namely traceability, and interactions.

Using messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram is fine, but these messaging apps are not designed to be used for team communications specifically. Keeping track of context, making sure discussions are on topic, and even searching for past comments or files that are shared in groups can be tricky. The interactions between team members are fairly limited too.

Business messaging platforms, on the other hand, offer these features as standard. Slack, for example, lets you create groups based on tasks, teams, and even specific projects. Keeping track of communications in multiple groups become easier, and maintaining context is no longer an issue. Team members can share documents and interact in different ways too.

Telephony Network

One of the biggest challenges of remote working is faced by those who regularly communicate with external parties. The simplest solution is using private lines to communicate with clients and vendors, but that is definitely not the solution to use when you want to maintain business professionalism and credibility.

However, services like RingCentral and Aircall with their VoIP features make unified easy to establish. PieSync has a detailed comparison of the two VoIP service providers and how they cater to businesses and professionals with their features. Both are also easy to integrate, plus you can use PieSync to integrate either RingCentral or Aircall with other business solutions.

That last part is actually important. Business solutions are easier to integrate with each other, so you don’t have to manually synchronize contacts or have multiple tools and apps opened at the same time when working remotely. Team members will certainly appreciate the integration of multiple tools into one seamless ecosystem for working remotely.

Live Collaborations

There is no point in working remotely if everyone is working at different times. Well, this is also true with open offices and flexible hours; when team members start working at different hours, it feels like the whole team lives in different time zones. Working together in a collaborative manner is still how you maintain effectiveness.

Fortunately, most collaborative tools come with live features that support this type of remote working. Instead of working separately, team members can be on the same document and making different changes to it in real-time. Meetings can be conducted via video conference, and brainstorming sessions can still be a lot of fun with everyone involved.

Remote working should not change the way we pace ourselves. Yes, we are working from different places, but live collaborations are still possible thanks to technology. The extra flexibility simply means that you don’t have to spend extra time to go to (and from) the office, plus you need no more than a few seconds to go from one meeting to the next.

Go the Extra Mile

Last but certainly not least, consider improving the physical work environment of your employees to help them stay productive. This is something that more and more companies now do. Not all employees have home offices or a suitable place for working remotely. You can provide aids so that employees can create that suitable environment based on their specific requirements.

Some businesses go the gift card route and offer employees the same amount so that they can set up their home office. Others look at employees’ needs and help those employees set up their work environments. Some startups even go as far as helping team members free up space so that they can fit a home office.

Regardless of the approach you take, make sure you are providing help to cover what employees really need. Remember that you are trying to create a suitable remote working environment, and not converting employees’ homes into offices that meet your (or the business’s) standards. Team members will certainly appreciate the help.

Remote working may not be for everyone, but businesses and organizations can play a more active role in helping employees remain productive and effective when working remotely. These tips will certainly help you get started with creating remote-first work environment for your team members right away.

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