Strong culture, good communication, and standard processes are the top 3 factors that help businesses to collaborate effectively in remote working environment.
The COVID-19 pandemic is nothing more than a “brutal” push, forcing many businesses to switch to a remote working model. However, when business owners first implemented this model in practice, they began to encounter ominous questions about collaborative activities in their team.
Of course, this is not a model fault. But because these businesses are taking the wrong approach to remote operations. Because in fact, from research by Nicolas Bloom & James Liang, remote workers are happier, less likely to quit, and more productive than in-office employees.
So what are the right approaches for teams, employers, and employees to collaborate more effectively when working remotely? Let’s find out the answer in the article below.
1. Good Culture
When working remotely, away from the usual office environment, employees will be easily distracted at work and lose their usual performance and collaboration. In order to reduce this problem, culture, or the human factor, needs to be given more attention.
Encouragement And Recognition
Individuals who can freely struggle in isolated working conditions must be trained in self-ownership thinking that involves self-control, self-motivation, and self-responsibility. Only when it is internally achieved that each employee has “real determination” and “true will” to work, can they wholeheartedly devote themselves to the business, regardless of environment or circumstances.
But of course, not when you have the right people, you have the right to sit and let them “swim” at work. In addition to intrinsic motivation, employees also need to be boosted by the “fighting spirit” from the company. Specifically, designing forms of recognition and rewards for excellent employees to make them feel similarly appreciated to when working in the office.
The most common form of recognition currently being adopted by many businesses is to create public commendation posts with individuals who have excellent performance. Employers can take advantage of the emailing system professionally, rather than using the internal corporate communication network, to create an achievement article and send it to all employees in the company in real-time. Others will be able to interact with the post and spread joy and motivation throughout the company.
The Right Working Tool
The second point about culture for effective remote work is the right tool. A common mistake of businesses just starting to implement the remote working model is thinking by default that employees already have the same equipment and official internet connection as at the office. But that is not the case, and it is the lack of synchronization of work tools that will drown the organization’s collaboration performance.
Therefore, when conducting the remote operation model, managers need to quickly complete an internal survey form to determine what are the missing equipment that employees need to use. In general, smartphones and laptops are two essential tools for every position. However, some individuals still need more specialized supplies, such as printers for legal professionals, webcams for online job interviewers, and so on.
In addition, the problem of internet connection also needs to be taken care of. A loose home network that does not guarantee complete security can cost employees and businesses dearly. The most common solution to this problem is to use a virtual private network (VPN – Virtual Private Network) to which each connected account must authenticate with a username and password. For smaller organizations, you can consider other options that are less expensive and simpler like connectivity software: Citrix Virtual Apps, Blackberry Digital Workplace or TeamViewer,…
The Given Orientation
The final ingredient to creating an effective remote collaboration culture is that businesses should have the right orientation for employees.
Contrary to the traditional working model, remote teams will not have much time to connect with the culture and goals of colleagues and organizations. Therefore, managers need to regularly align their employees’ thoughts with the vision, values, and mission of the business, so that all activities can take place effectively, towards a unified result.
When all these 3 factors – finding the right people, giving them the right tools, and making sure they see the company’s path are met, then the remote working culture of the business is truly complete and ready for supporting all employees to work effectively.
2. Standard Communication
Remote communication can make employees happier and less stressed. However, if the communication is done incorrectly, it will cause information flow to be broken leading to everything “doesn’t work”, which means that collaboration also becomes less effective.
So how to effectively communicate in the remote working model?
Communicating In Daily Work
In daily communication with remote colleagues, free chat applications such as Zalo, Facebook, Skype, Google Hangouts,… seem to be the most used communication tools.
However, it’s important to note that the above chat applications were originally born to serve asynchronous communication (members operate at different times). But with the ability to transmit information in real-time, users often confuse them with synchronous communication.
This form of synchronous communication causes employees to constantly wait and check messages, inadvertently affecting the essential work they are doing. The solution to this problem is that the working team must clearly separate the purpose and duration of communication when working remotely such as employees are not allowed to text outside in the company’s general chat group, or useful news must be sent from certain channels.
Ideally, the company should have a collaborative workspace that is completely isolated from communication channels that are too crowded and potentially distracting. Many companies are using task management software for everyone to comment, discuss, and exchange documents right under each task listed. This is considered the closest communication method with the criteria of work management and team collaboration.
Conveying Important Information
Similar to everyday collaboration, free chat apps are also not a good way for companies to convey important and official information. Because the information can quickly drift, get forgotten, or jump to another topic when employees are constantly interacting in the communication channel.
Using a Facebook Private Group was originally supposed to be a useful and easy-to-implement solution. Gradually, however, CEOs realized two serious problems. One is the performance problem. When employees have to turn on a Facebook tab in case of company announcements, they inevitably lose focus for a lot of other things on the social network. Second, the Facebook group does not allow managers to control who has the right to post, which can lead to the appearance of false and unorthodox news.
Therefore, with important content, sending an email will become a better option. Because this is a one-way information communication channel, officially controlled by the company. Or more optimally, managers can consider deploying a dedicated internal communication network for their businesses.
Conducting Online Meetings
Referring to remote working, it is impossible not to mention online meetings – which are recommended to be held through video call support tools.
That’s right, whether your company hold a one-on-one meeting or a group meeting, this method can always be used, as long as the camera and mic are fully equipped. Video calls help communication become more soulful while ensuring the focus and effectiveness of the meeting. Besides, meeting organizers’ can use the shared Google Docs system to facilitate their online meetings. This method helps employees who can not attend the meeting to understand the context and grasp the content of the meeting after reading the document.
Additionally, Google Docs method supports the meeting in real-time. Each meeting has a Google Docs page that is authorized to edit for all employees. On it is available the necessary information about the meeting such as time, agenda, participants, … When the chairperson raises an issue, the members will simultaneously type their opinions. Comment layers are distinguished by indentation. People are also allowed to comment or make notes on other people’s opinions.
One thing to keep in mind is to only hold meetings when absolutely necessary. For the rest, simplify communication at work by using communication platforms.
3. Standard Processes
In this factor, a problem that makes it difficult for businesses to operate and work remotely is the thinking that the process must be standard and fixed. Given the process, 100% of the employees must follow it, which is not really flexible. This is a rather wrong thinking, when put in a situation where businesses need to adapt to a completely new working model.
In fact, the process must be constantly updated and re-standardized. When there are market fluctuations (such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic) and the company’s working model changes, the process must also change to facilitate employees’ operations.
Complex, multi-step workflows are inevitably difficult to operate effectively in a remote environment that lacks a lot of physical interaction. The new process to support the staff must be improved, streamlined and more logical to deliver results and reduce risks. A process management application can help businesses establish and improve processes continuously during stressful and urgent epidemic times.
A remote business, wanting to collaborate and work effectively, must first recognize the three pillars of influencing factors culture, communication and process as mentioned. Achieving these 3 effects, owners will not only be able to support their businesses through the crisis of the recent pandemic but also turn their organizations into a lean, precise operating machine that can deal with other pressing situations in the future.
Suddenly changing the working model is never an easy task for businesses, especially when they are in a passive situation, due to pressure from external factors. Deviation in collaboration and effective work is highly possible, but if leaders have the right direction, it will be much simpler to put everything back on the right track.
Hopefully, the above article will give you the direction to manage people who have to work from home and remotely.