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n March 2020, companies all over the world, even the ones that never planned on having a remote workforce, were forced to join the remote-working trend. Management teams had to adjust on the fly, and employees had to learn tools they might have never used before and get used to a new work environment.

But already, that was a long time ago. We’re now in the new norm of fully remote or hybrid environments. Many organizations have discovered that a remote workforce offers many advantages over the traditional workplace. Here are some statistics from Findstack to support this theory:

  • 16% of organizations globally are now 100% remote.
  • 77% of remote workers say they are more productive working from home.
  • 85% of managers believe that having remote workers on their team will become the new norm.
  • 74% of employees say having the option to work remotely makes them less likely to leave an organization.
  • 44% growth in remote work in the past 5 years.

While this transition provides many benefits for both employers and employees, there are many challenges that managers have to face in this new environment. Most companies are adopting a hybrid model — where they have employees that work at home, employees that work in the office, and employees that split their time between home and the office.

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Some managers have zero experience or training in managing remote teams. This can make trusting remote workers an issue when all they’re used to is face-to-face management. Many of them may feel like they’ve lost control over their subordinates, which can result in an overbearing management style.

In a recently published study, the authors wrote that, “to enable the transition of employees to virtual work arrangements, managers who work in bureaucratic organizations that value a high degree of control and stability may need to change their management style to accommodate new methods of employee communication and interaction.”

However, some organizations have thrived since transitioning to remote work. Those companies tend to have an atmosphere that promotes a culture of trust and security. Here are five working remotely tips and tools for management teams to promote that type of healthy work atmosphere:

1. Make data easy to access

Make it easy for your remote workers to access and manage documents that are essential to their job. This will ensure your team can work in sync and not waste time emailing documents, waiting for documents, or driving to and from offices or job sites.

With a secure, centralized database, your authorized remote employees can pull up the documents they need whenever and wherever they are. With a remote workforce, it’s crucial to always keep work moving forward.

2. Support social interactions

Whether it’s a 30-minute happy hour session or a once every 6 months get-together, try to foster that community between yourself and your team members. Social isolation and loneliness are some of the challenges employees face when they work from home. That’s because we are used to getting a large part of our social interactions from the workplace.

For most, it’s where we spend 8+ hours of our day. That’s why employers need to provide a way to escape that isolation and engage workers to make them more productive. Here are a few ways you can help your team do this:

  • Hold a virtual charity event
  • Encourage peer-to-peer appreciation notes
  • Involve Employee Resource Groups
  • Celebrate accomplishments in a special way
  • Have opt-in/virtual coffee meetings with no agenda
  • Start an online Trivia Night

3. Use video and quick chat tools

Team video conferencing and quick chat tools have been essential since employees were forced to work remotely. They have eliminated time and distance as the primary communication challenges. Teams can now communicate with each other wherever and whenever they want. Here are some of the top tools being used by remote teams in 2021:

  • Microsoft Teams allows users to create channels for different teams and projects or topics, for companies primarily using a Microsoft-based stack. This enables teams to more easily and quickly collaborate. It also has excellent features for chat and video meetings.
  • Google Chat also allows teams to create chat rooms to accommodate different projects. It’s part of Google Workspace (Gmail, Google Drive, Calendar, etc.).
  • Zoom users can hold video conferences, virtual meetings, and demonstrations. People can also host webinars and online training, record sessions, and share screens. It's a market leader for Meeting Solutions, according to Gartner, similar to Microsoft Teams.

4. Trust your employees

Try to avoid micromanaging. Use data to evaluate your employee’s performances and don’t focus on when your team is working. Remote workers enjoy this lifestyle for a reason — it allows them to take their kids to school, save money on commuting, , and more. Trust that they are responsible enough to work when they are most productive.

However, that doesn’t mean they have an excuse to be unavailable. Ensure you can communicate with them by scheduling daily or weekly check-in times to ensure tasks are getting completed and projects are going as planned. And to ensure their work is getting done, use a task-managing tool like MetaSpark, which analyzes everyone’s work and gives real-time reports on productivity and goal progress.

5.  Manage expectations

That goes for you and your employees. It can be hard enough getting everyone on the same page in the office. It becomes a bigger challenge when you have some employees working from home and others working in the office. Here are a few tips for setting remote work expectations:

  1. Be clear and intentional about communication from the start.
  2. Agree on the hours each remote worker should be working.
  3. Set standards on outcomes and performance.
  4. Set targets (metrics & KPIs, or OKRs) to measure their success.
  5. Set inclusiveness expectations to ensure team collaboration.

Working Remotely Tips and Tools for 2021

By following these working remotely tips and tools, you can overcome the challenges of running a remote team. Remember that not all employees work remotely the same — some may need extra mentoring, others might need to come into the office more frequently, and you may need to hold workshops to get everyone on the same page.

Are you looking for a tool to help your organization become more productive while working remotely from home? Schedule a demo for MetaSpark Today!

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