The workforce is shifting. As Gen Y and Gen Z begin to dominate the workforce, the demand for more flexibility is rising, and the traditional office with cubicles and a 9-5 schedule is becoming less desirable. The established way of running an office, with cubicles and employees spending set times in one place is no longer needed.
5 Steps to Turning Your Office into a Remote Team
Many Managers might be wondering how to transition their traditional offices into a remote team. Here are five steps that can help to move away the old and tired office structure and move towards a functional remote team.
The first step is to embrace technology. The same computers that help your traditional office function, can be key to evolving into a remote team. Utilize file sharing and team messaging software like Slack so that everyone can stay connected and collaborate on projects. Other examples include:
- Group conferencing software such as Zoom can help you host meetings with teammates around the globe.
- Migrate from landlines to VoIP solutions
- Project management software such as Trello, Asana, or Basecamp (just to name a few!) can keep your team organized and make sure that all of your projects are being completed on time.
- Utilize GitHub if your team does software development.
- Google Drive can help your team to keep all of your important files in one place
- Google Docs can be edited and commented on by multiple people.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many software solutions out there to transition your office from physical to virtual. The success of your team relies upon everyone embracing these new tools and establishing SOPs to effectively integrate these solutions into your workflow.
Establish Policies that Are Remote Work Friendly
When transitioning from a traditional office to a remote environment, establishing some guidelines and policies for remote work is essential. Some fundamental policies include:
- Confidentiality – keeping client data safe.
- Security of records – establishing secure connections or VPN’s, and making sure all technology is protected from viruses, hacking, and other threats.
- Technology compatibility – making sure everyone on the team is using uniform or compatible technology
- Expectations around response time and availability for all remote employees.
By implementing these core policies, the office environment can transform into one that allows for more flexibility.
Encourage Collaboration not Separation
Just as many traditional work environments can fall into competitive and individualistic environments, remote work can be incredibly isolating. While the team may be spread over several time zones, it is still possible to create a collaborative virtual environment.
Remember when someone brought a cake into the breakroom to celebrate staff birthdays? This can still be accomplished virtually by making room for celebration rituals within the team.
Making sure that all team communication is clear will also go a long way to establish a collaborative remote atmosphere. If messages are too short or lack full explanations, it may leave some team members with cryptic messages to decode as communication nuances like a speaker’s tone of voice or body language are typically absent in the remote environment.
Being too short without being clear can also lead to endless email threads or long discussions about what a message actually entails, which can be a huge time suck as well as create confusion and tension within the team. Aim to be clear, even if it means providing a more detailed description.
Finally, just because the team is remote – doesn’t’ mean there won’t be an established culture. Establishing and sticking to communication etiquette will help the team feel more cohesive and build a sense of identity.
Commit to a New Way of Working
To successfully transition from a traditional office to a remote team, developing the right mindset requires a commitment to a new way of working. At the present time, there is a unique meeting of technology with standard working practices. New generations are entering the workforce that has not known a world without the internet.
With this in mind, a change in mindset is necessary in order to move the workplace forward. Many managers are relying on the old mindset that people need to be in a specific place at a specific time in order to get tasks accomplished.
Perform a Trial Run
To move towards a fully remote work environment, a company should conduct a trial run, or series of trial runs before going fully remote. Start with a small group of employees, so that you have a measurable and manageable first run. Make the trial run time-limited. A time limit will establish a fixed start and endpoint so you can examine results.
Document everything. Some examples of things you should absolutely document include:
- Working hours
- Projects worked on
- Challenges that came up
- Software used and how it was used
- Important workflow process
- Any other important details
This will help you to establish parameters and policies for remote work once the company is ready to make the switch.
Final Thoughts on Building Remote Work Environments
Once you embrace technology, establish policies, encourage collaboration, commit to a new way of working, and perform a trial run you may be ready to pivot from a traditional office to remote team.
Joon provides personalized solutions that can help traditional workplaces transform into remote working teams.