More than ever, companies are offering more flexibility when it comes to where and when their employees can work. From allowing remote work to happen 2-3 days from home to some companies (like Reinventing Events) where employees are fully remote, the ability to telecommute has been a growing trend. A 2016 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) showed that 60% of companies offer their employees telecommuting opportunities, which is three times what was reported in 1996.
Telecommuting is a trend that will continue to grow. More companies are realizing that remote work has many benefits, including increases productivity, boosts morale, reduces employee turnover, and offers employees they type of flexibility that makes them want to stay. A 2016 Gallup survey found that 43% of employees work away from their team members for at least some of their work time. So it’s clear that companies are paying attention to the growing list of benefits from incorporating remote work. As this trend grows it’s important for companies to be changing the way they operate to meet the needs of their ever virtual teams.
In order to successfully work remotely, employees need to have the right tools and resources available to do their job well. But it’s also important to consider what tools they’ll need to stay engaged and happy with their work. In a recent Gallup poll results showed that employees with the highest level of engagement were those who spend 3 – 4 days working remotely. Although it’s important to note that engagement levels drop for employees who work remotely 100% of the time. As companies continue to offer remote work opportunities it’s important to consider what tools are needed to get the job done well and what resources are needed to keep their virtual workforce happy and engaged.
At Reinventing Events, we have tools and resources that focus on both factors. We try to create a “virtual office” where we can still have casual conversations about our weekends and form the connections that are needed to keep us all feeling engaged. We have a few tools and rules that we follow to help us all rock working on a remote team. We hope these tips can help your remote team. If you have resources or tips for working with a remote team, we’d love to hear them! Tweet us @ReinventingEvents or share on our Facebook page!
When you work remotely you miss out on some of the casual conversations that happen in an office space. It’s important to have a form of communication that allows and encourages the open flow of casual conversation. We use Slack to chat with each other throughout the day. Slack gives us the ability to message each other directly or to message different groups. We have a dedicated slack channel for each event we work on which lets us quickly slack questions or comments to the group without having to go into detail on which project we’re discussing.
We check in with each other in the morning and let each other know when we’re done for the day, almost as if we were knocking on someone’s door in the morning to say hello or giving a quick “have a great night” as someone leaves for the day. As much as we use Slack for work we also talk about weekend plans and share pictures of our dogs, the weather, recipes, and even new haircuts. The casual flow of conversation throughout the day helps us all feel part of the team. Whatever your form of communication is, it’s important to keep it casual, open, and constant throughout the day.
A good task management tool will avoid wires getting crossed and tasks being overlooked. We use Asana on a daily basis. It’s a free task management system that breaks everything into a to-do list. We create tasks with due dates for each event we work on to keep everything clean and organized. You can easily add someone as a follower to your task, tag them, or even create tasks for others. It helps us easily see who’s working on what so we know everything is covered. Being transparent in our tasks and their progress help us form a cohesive team.
Encourage your team to walk away during the day
Things get crazy in the few weeks leading up to an event, but our general rule of thumb is to take at least one break a day. We encourage each other to take short breaks for coffee or to walk the dog or to take longer breaks for workouts, lunch, and even running errands. Making sure we all take the time to step away from the computer screen helps us stay productive and focused when we are working. Longer breaks during the day also help us from going stir crazy after hours of sitting at home.
Respect offline hours
When your home is also your office it can be easy to linger online longer and check in on things over the weekend. The flexibility and ease of work can be convenient but it also means you always feel the need to jump online. We add start and stop times to our calendars so everyone knows when we plan on being online for the day. We schedule meetings accordingly and respect each others offline time. Having scheduled start and stop times helps us keep a good work-life balance.
For each event, we have internal calls to sync up across the project with each other as well as a client call to give updates and review open items still needing attention. But on top of that, we dedicate one call each week to focus on checking in with each other. We’ll chat about our weekend, run through our to-do list for the week, and share any challenges we have coming up. Having a weekly call focused on our team and how we’re doing, both personally and professionally, helps us stay connected. We’re also never afraid to pick up the phone and chat with each other to brainstorm problems or talk through our tasks.
Make use of times when you’re together
Team bonding doesn’t have to be sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya. You can build your team relationships just by spending some of your time together out of a work setting.
We’re lucky in that we do remote work to plan the events but we get to travel onsite for production. This means every few months we get to spend some time face-to-face. We make the most use of our time together by planning team dinners, grabbing a coffee, and even hanging out in the hotel together. If you do get the occasional face-to-face time with your team, be sure you spend some time connecting as a team.
Whether you’re working remotely a few days a week or 100% of the time, we hope these tips help you in making it an enjoyable experience for you and your team.
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