How to Effectively Work RemoteWritten by Christina Miller
Trends in recent years, pre-pandemic, have shown that business and technology have shifted toward a new standard of work flexibility for employees -- where, when, why and with whom. While the demand has built for decades, it is projected to continue to change especially with the rapid shift in the workforce since the pandemic.
According to the Pew Research Center, before COVID-19, only 7% of civilian workers in the United States had access to benefits like working remotely (1). Now, 62% of employed Americans say they have, or are currently, working from home during the COVID-19 crisis.
With the rise in remote work, challenges and benefits have presented themselves as organizations adjust to new terms of flexibility. A survey conducted by KPMG found that 64% of workers say their quality of work has actually improved during the COVID-19 crisis simply because they can now work from home (2). The same report found that people are collaborating more with their team and that 82% of respondents say their team has effectively adapted to working together during this time.
Let’s take a look at three layers that create effective teamwork while working remotely.
Communication, as we all know, is a vital part of work. The importance of strong communication is more prevalent today without face-to-face contact; we cannot walk down the hall to discuss something or ask a coworker a question. With various communication tools - email, Slack, Zoom, Google Chat and more - it is important for teams to find the right communication balance with these tools and to decide which is best for their types of communications. It could be beneficial to try to mimic workplace interactions, which could mean group or one-to-one direct messages, calls or video calls. While navigating various circumstances across teams will take both patience and proactivity, being direct and intentional with communication will lead to greater success.
The content that you and your team may be collaborating on needs to be in an easily accessible and secure space. Cloud storage and file-storage services - Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and many more - allow you to store information and documents that can be saved and shared from anywhere. These platforms eliminate file loss and data damage by reducing the email chains sent and plugging/unplugging of USB drives. Content platform tools provide smooth and secure access to files - word documents, PDFs, photos, videos, etc. - as the cloud is continuously syncing your and your coworkers’ digital files.
Collaborating and coordinating efficiently as a team is the last layer to effectively working remote. As important as your communication tools and content platforms are, it can be hard to collaborate with coworkers remotely. It can be tedious and time consuming to do check-ins to see who is doing what and by when. For coordination ease, management tools - Asana, ProofHub, LiquidPlanner, and more - have evolved to plan, schedule and monitor projects. Clarity in the workplace across all levels of the organization through coordination tools will ensure that everyone has the information they need to accomplish their work. With rapid changes and altering business priorities, coordination systems ease the stress of managing people remotely as everyone can see who is doing what and can discuss in one place.
Using these three layers - communication, content and coordination - while working remote teaches employees to work asynchronously. Adjusting to working on their own time, employees can effectively meet deadlines and complete tasks with ongoing collaboration. These three layers provide clarity about larger goals and individual priorities across the organization leading to effective and efficient work from the comfort of our homes.
Written by Christina Miller