Big or small, most businesses today have rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies amid the spread of Covid-19.
Many companies are working virtually for the very first time, which means they need to figure out ways to be productive in a new environment.
For several organizations, however, having employees working remotely is nothing new. In the last few years, virtual teams have been on the rise – as companies expand geographically and as telecommuting becomes more common, work groups are not just limited to offices or shared workspaces.
There are also significant advantages in virtually running a business. Employees can manage work and personal lives in a more flexible manner. Companies can use the best and lowest-cost global talent and significantly reduce their real estate costs. It also means reduced overhead costs, increased retention rates and greater availability of talent.
But as global teams and remote corporate cultures rise, it is important to virtually manage a business in the right manner.
Here are some tips that can be helpful to virtually manage a business.
Find the Right People
Due to sudden transition to WFH because of Covid, many employers don’t have this choice, however, for future, remember – not everybody is suited for remote work.
Try and hire people who have successfully worked from home in the past. Having had prior experience, they will probably be better-suited for a virtual job than someone who has worked in an entire environment all his life.
Also, you will find that some people can do their job well without being told what to do more than once. These are ‘model employees’ for virtual jobs. Software engineers, graphic designers and accountants are often good candidates, because they spend a lot of time on their computers anyways. Be wary of virtualizing client-facing jobs, which are always more successful when done in-person.
Up the communication game
Coronavirus or not, the key to successfully running a business virtually is clear communication with your team Traditionally, most people in an office environment spend their days in close proximity to their boss, meaning communication is easy and effortless.
With remote work, seamless communication is the key to managing a virtual business.
Invest in the right tools and whatever platforms you use, be sure to organise the communication space clearly so that team members know where to find one another and can reach each other at the right moment and in a reliable way.
Establish Standard Procedures and Rules for all Employees
Create a list of standard procedures and rules that all employees must follow. This ensures consistency in all areas across your business, while improving communication amongst your team. It also has the potential to dramatically increase your virtual team’s motivation and efficiency, which encourages high-quality output, as well as supports them to be more self-sufficient and ask fewer questions.
In a survey of 7,000 workers last year by FlexJobs, 65% said they’re more productive working from home, citing benefits like fewer interruptions from colleagues, minimal office politics and reduced stress from commuting.
Be Clear About Your Expectations
Managing virtual businesses can become stressful when things are not done as you expect them to be. You don’t want to micromanage, but at the same time, you don’t want staff misusing the privilege of working remotely, either. It is best to find a balance by providing detailed descriptions of tasks, along with examples of how the final result should look.
While it’s vital to give your team the freedom to execute their duties with fewer instructions, it’s also important that tasks are carried out precisely the way that you want them to be, to avoid potential misunderstandings.
Let your virtual team members know what you expect in terms of reachability, too; for instance, employees should be readily available to the rest of the team and clients within their standard working hours.
Stating shared and measurable objectives with all employees eliminates the temptation to micromanage out of fear that they are slacking.
Recognise employees for their work
To keep remote team members engaged, reward your employees for a job well done. Have employees set goals and earn points as they reach milestones. For example, you might reward your team for completing a certain number of projects, making a sales goal, completing training courses, or attending events.
Employee recognition can help remote employees feel less isolated and more motivated. Once a team member meets a goal, you might offer incentive pay, merchandise, or another perk.
Engage in informal conversations
Even those who are accustomed to it, working from home can feel unstructured and isolating. Last year, a study of 2,500 remote workers by online brand development agency Buffer found that loneliness was the second-most reported challenge, one experienced by 19% of respondents. Loneliness can make people feel less motivated and less productive.
To help build relationships and trust between members, encourage your team to share their feelings and chat informally, whenever they can. Organise fun events virtually, and give your employees a chance to interact with each other beyond work. This will help strengthen their bond and lead to greater productivity and efficiency.
The bottom line
The coronavirus pandemic is expected to fundamentally change the way many organisations operate for the foreseeable future. As governments and businesses around the world deal with this new practice, it is important for businesses to understand the best way to virtually manage a business.