Remote work keeps gaining popularity both because of the pandemic and the fact that the gig economy is on the rise. Digital nomadism, in particular, has presented itself as a dreamlike opportunity for many unsatisfied traditional employees who have begun to increasingly realize there is more to life than 9-5 shifts.
One benefit that remote work brings forth is the freedom to choose from a variety of international clients, meaning that location doesn’t matter anymore. Needless to say, this opportunity has helped many remote workers from poor countries to find job openings that would traditionally be unavailable to them.
For people from countries lacking as many opportunities, the gig economy offers another benefit: the chance to move their office elsewhere.
As we have seen during the pandemic, many employers have realized that the lower costs of managing remote teams make office work less and less attractive, which we can expect to see reflected in future trends.
However, one particular aspect of remote work that still needs to be polished is management. For it is not only the employees that need to adjust to a myriad of digital tools, but managers as well. Plus, we all know how tempting the prospect can be for people used to being executives, as opposed to leaders.
At the same time, the rise of startups has brought additional drastic changes that challenge the traditional business model. Leaders — a category rapidly replacing managers — calls for a whole new set of skills and advanced digital literacy.
Overall, multiple trends have contributed to a large change in numerous companies, with employees either following suit or turning to new remote opportunities that are now available to everyone — everywhere.
But, how is project management for remote teams to be solved in the meanwhile?
Studies on digital collaboration show that the average score is 6.5 out of 10, meaning that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Let’s see how the score can be bettered.
1. Choose the Right Tools
Tools and apps are a leverage of success when it comes to remote work. The choice of a good email client and project management tool is crucial since all communication will be staged online.
For many people, Gmail is the first thing that comes to mind when an email client is mentioned. Gmail is user-friendly and offers a number of benefits, but depending on the scope of work, there are other Gmail alternatives as well.
Sloppy inboxes should be a thing of the past. Focus on the zero inbox goal and heightened visibility for best results.
2. Employee Engagement
Much has been said about this topic, with no universal conclusions due to the numerous scopes of businesses turning to remote work.
While there are tools that can help aid with the issue, it is all too easy to forget the human factor when working remotely. It is, therefore, crucial, to focus on building a culture that nurtures motivation.
But, how to know whether the plan is working? After all, there are different people looking for different things. Well, that one is easy, at least. Encourage anonymous feedback to measure employee engagement and overall satisfaction — and make sure to act on the feedback. In this way, employees will know that their voices are being heard, which will boost their engagement in return.
3. Employing Best Practices
Admittedly, the term “best practices” is a bit vague, given that different businesses have different goals and milestones (not to mention different corporate cultures), but there are still a couple of universal tips applicable to all of them.
Firstly, keeping communication alive should be among the top priorities. Make sure to clearly communicate the channels and time slots when employees can reach you, and also schedule regular meetings.
Secondly, always provide employees with timely company updates. The frequency is up to you, with best practices being quarterly, monthly, bi-annually or annually. The choice depends on the size of the company (the number of departments, etc.). It’s also a good idea to send a company newsletter (monthly) to keep people posted about the upcoming activities.
4. Delegating Work
Remote work may be somewhat similar to startups. For large companies, this means that work delegation needs to adjust to include all the nuances of remote work.
Thus, managers should keep in touch with their respective remote teams regularly, while company updates can be provided sporadically.
The same goes for general meetings. E.g., many businesses relying on remote teams schedule daily “catch ups” just to follow up on the tasks at hand, while large meetings are reserved for specified milestones and quarters.
5. Allow Employees to Grow Alongside the Company
Everyone is looking for better opportunities. With the rise of the gig economy, it is only to be expected that people unsatisfied with their jobs (or salary) will be looking for better job offers.
The key to keeping your employees is to allow them to grow and act on the feedback. There needs to be a definite line between “control” and “communication.” Balancing these extremes early on is of crucial importance.
Make certain to clearly communicate expectations, but also rewards. Help people to grow and move forward by providing them with advancement and instructional learning opportunities. Build a culture of trust and engagement while promoting company values and showing gratitude and palpable rewards.
The tips discussed above are not universal to remote work alone. Building trust and engagement by encouraging feedback should be the goal of every business striving to be the best place for its employees.
The old-style thinking that everyone is replaceable has taken a significant blow with the rise of remote work (not to mention that it is far more expensive to train new hires than to invest in your team), so think about how to grow your business so that every individual achievement counts.
The startup model should be your guide. These people are more similar to families than to colleagues, simply because they know that only joint efforts can bring forth results in the competitive market.
Learn from them, listen to feedback and encourage employees to be themselves. That is the only way to ensure stable progress.