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Insights | Remote working - Time to raise the bar

If you are a team manager or a project lead, the need to produce new processes and systems for remote working, has probably been at the forefront of your mind for the last 4-5 weeks.

You now have a system in place that works pretty well. You talk to your team on a daily basis and you probably have a reasonable idea of the work in progress.

With the recent announcements from the government, it seems working from home is going to become the ‘new normal’ for quite a few months ahead. Are you systems good enough, or like many others, are you starting to see the cracks develop as you continue to manage your team remotely?

Our guide to improve your remote working capability

There are a number of problems that can develop as team members work on their own remotely.

  • Isolation

  • Lack of discipline and focus

  • Lack of feedback

  • Anxiety

If the problems are not addressed then they will lead to longer term issues and reduce the overall team efficiency.

Our Insights

Here are our suggested ways of ensuring your team stays safe, motivated and you have a longer term solution for remote working.

  1. Conduct daily stand-ups. These meetings should run at the same time each day, they should be short and focus on work that needs to be done that day. We would suggest a very short update from the host (team lead) then an update from each person on the call in terms of what they are working on, and any issues preventing completion. This is the opportunity for them to call-out if they need some help from someone else within the team. The whole meeting should take no longer than 15-20 minutes, and everyone should have a say. It is the role of the host to ensure the meeting stays balanced, and everyone has the opportunity to make a contribution.

  2. Conduct regular 1-2-1 calls. These should be run at least once per week if not more. We would suggest they are conducted face-to-face by video call (zoom, teams, FaceTime), as this will allow you the opportunity to look for any underlying issues and build a good rapport with the team member. The call should be used for a detailed update in terms of task progress, provide the opportunity to raise any concerns, share progress and provide feedback.

  3. Conduct weekly team meetings (kitchen meetings). Ideally these meetings are a lot less formal, and gives the team member the opportunity to chat and share experiences. They could include a short progress briefing on the project, or could be focused on the overall strategy. They should be fun, engaging and give the team the opportunity to let off steam and look towards the future. Applications such as zoom, or Mural, have excellent capabilities for running interactive meetings.

  4. Buddy / Work in Pairs. For each remote worker, pair them with another remote worker and encourage communication using tools such as Teams or Slack. It will encourage the sharing of work, but will also allow you to identify issues with individuals, or quality or output of work issues. We will focus on this topic in a forthcoming insight, as we have found it works extremely well.

  5. Review and improve meetings. We would encourage a brainstorm / retrospective style meeting every two weeks to look at the system of remote working that you have in place. Identify what is working well, and how it can be improved. What needs to be stopped / changed. How can we build an enduring system for remote working that we can continue to use?

  6. Do you have the correct tools? Zoom is a favourite or ours, and with the paid subscription it comes with a number of additional teams to enable you to manage the team. The breakout room feature will allow you to conduct brainstorm or problem solving meetings, or allow you to continue your training agenda. Slack enable direct or group chat and it can be structured around particular subjects, or areas of focus. Our final choice is Mural, when you can conduct workshops, planning or strategy meetings using a whiteboard and Post-it notes. We will provide a more comprehensive view of these and other tools in a subsequent article.

In summary, having a system that everyone is comfortable with for remote working is key to the long term success of the team. There will be a ‘new normal’ and remote working will be a key ingredient of the overall solution moving forward.

We are keen to work with our clients to help them build the best solution that works for them. We can offer simple support in terms of getting the various meetings underway, or we could offer prolonged support to manage and facilitate the meetings on your behalf. Email or call us on 01926 354680 and we can see how we can help.