Remote work: how to organize a team during #stayhome and home office?

Published on 2020-05-06 by Zuzanna Ilków.
Work from home is something that many of us do not have experience with - this applies to both employees and entrepreneurs. The coronavirus outbreak forced us to test some remote work solutions, speed up the process of transition and learn to work from home.

Office employees do not always know what remote work is and how to prepare for it. The owners of companies and start-ups, in turn, are mainly worried that an unattended employee will not perform his duties and will be less efficient.

The popularity of remote work in the West and examples of companies such as American Zapier, whose employees perform their duties 100% remotely, show how little these fears have to do with reality.
The key to success is to build a team that works well in both the office and home office. It takes time to make this transition. However, even in the current coronavirus related situation, you can use several techniques to help you build a team of effective remote workers.

How to organize a team and remote work during coronavirus?

Although this may come as a surprise to you, a memorable two-year experiment clearly showed that remote workers are more productive and at the same time less stressed.
It's worth taking the opportunity to test how remote work works for you. To build an effective, motivated team working in the home office, use the experience and advice of freelancers.
Where to start?

1. Remote work: how to organize a team - good communication

Good communication is the basis of good remote work. It has two main functions: efficient communication of information and maintaining a sense of community between employees.

When you work from home, it is more difficult to organize a meeting where you will discuss the most important plans and tasks for the near future. You simply don't have the chance to "bump" into a colleague at the espresso machine and exchange conversation - and this promotes isolation and a sense of loneliness.

Use video conferences (you can organize them on Google Hangouts, on Skype, Slack or on a platform such as Zoom). Thanks to this, you will be able to share the most important information ... and see each other.

Choose one main channel for ongoing communication in the form of a chat room. As a result, employees will be able to directly discuss current issues with each other without involving the entire team.

2. Remote work: how to organize a team - a common space for documents

Do you use standard documents, share files or forms with each other? If so, you are definitely using some form of virtual disk or cloud in which you store your files.

If not, it's worth implementing this solution now. To make work easier for everyone in the home office, transfer the most-needed documents to Google Drive or Dropbox Paper. You can also find here work files that several team members are working on, as well as meetings and video conferencing agendas.

3. Remote work: how to organize a team - task management

When each of you works from different home, checking the progress of work requires asking each member of the group individually what they have already done and what else they have to do. You also risk a flood of emails with project updates, e.g. in Google documents.

In the current situation, when employees choose a home office or remote work is mandatory, it is worth using a project management tool. It does not have to be an expensive and extensive program. There are several extremely effective, friendly and easy-to-use tools on the market, such as Trello or Asana. You will make a list of tasks in them, divide them among colleagues and add notes or files. Both tools in operation use the kanban technique, in which tasks are divided into "to do", "in progress" and "completed" - this transparent system makes you quickly assess whether you are going as planned.\

4. Remote work: how to organize a team - measuring progress

What problem have suspicious managers with remote work? The worst vision is a copywriter, graphic designer or programmer, who instead of working on the entrusted task absorbs subsequent episodes of the series on Netflix.

When an employee is in the office, it's easy to see if he spends time on his tasks. It is different in the case of remote work. Let's face it, lack of supervision and greater freedom in organizing work are the reasons why freelancers value working from home. And it's worth getting used to it!

To avoid arguments and misunderstandings, clearly determine how you measure the effects of done work. If you settle on an hourly basis, set a list of tasks to be carried out at a given time and start measuring time using tools such as Tickspot or PomodoneApp. If not, compensate employees based on the number of tasks performed and the quality of work. Focus on how many tasks have been completed and how well, not how many hours.

5. Remote work: how to organize a team - working hours

The epidemic caused by coronavirus and the associated difficulties in everyday life affect us all. This applies not only to companies that change working hours or suspend operations, but also to employees who often have to take care of children.

In this situation, it is worth considering the option of flexibility of working hours. This solution has the advantage of allowing the employee to choose the hours in which he will work most effectively with a minimum of interference. Set a time frame for everyone to be online and let employees tailor their work plan around it.

Remote work: your new team

Contrary to popular assumptions, switching to remote work and including it permanently in your employment or cooperation model does not necessarily mean revolutionary changes. To fully use the potential of employees you need a set of proven tools and ... a slight change in the way of thinking.

We are used to the stereotype in which productivity is measured by hours spent behind the desk, and remote work is synonymous with a small vacation. Meanwhile, statistics indicate that remote work means greater productivity and better work-life balance. Lower office maintenance costs and more efficient, satisfied employees are just the start of potential benefits for you.