By now, you’re probably closing offices, wrapping things up and preparing for a few months of virtual work. As a company that’s always been virtual and has helped clients be more effective remotely for over a decade, we know exactly what works and doesn’t work.
There are some simple things you can do to make your entire online working life easier. A lot easier.
We could give you 100 Tips (in fact, we’re publishing a book about this soon), but right now, we thought we’d share our easiest tips on making those employees as productive as possible and as fast as possible.
If you can’t be heard, you won’t be effective online. A couple of years ago, we did our own test of headsets and settled on a nice wired solution that works well. If you can’t be heard on virtual calls, you aren’t going to be very productive.
Virtual meetings have unique challenges. Give them the responsibility to shut the meeting down if it isn’t accomplishing anything. It is their job to keep the meeting on track, make sure everyone has a chance to speak (e.g. all the introverts) and to not let it wander off course.
Rotate minute-taking responsibilities throughout the team if you don’t have administrative staff. Identify which decisions were made, who has to do what when and what risks. Get it in a recording and get it in words. Send it out.
If necessary, tie a bonus to this. They can call, email, message. We use dashboards with auto-reminders and people to follow up if those auto reminders haven’t been clicked on. Otherwise, you’ll find you’ll have lots of meetings and not a lot being done.
Subscribe to our blog to learn more tips for working remotely.
Make sure that they know how to use it and you have someone to help them if they don’t. 15 minutes of every meeting with someone trying to figure out the technology. Get everyone to present at least twice a month. Make someone the team meeting coach. Leave 10 minutes before each meeting for people to get used to it. That system should record calls so you can prove what people agreed to do and a link included with meeting minutes.
This means having a standard file and folder naming convention and having a central repository (Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google, whatever) where everyone has the correct level of access.
Do not let people keep things on their PC or you are going to have a version control nightmare. And while you’re at it, get a backup system in addition to the cloud system. We double backup everything.
Invite an ergonomics person to present on a call. We include this in all of our onboarding training. The last thing you need after everyone survives Covid19 is half your employees with carpel tunnel or back problems.
If critical staff are not available for any reason, you need to make sure you have backup and double backup. We document all of our processes – and we make sure that we have someone who knows each job function, where information is and how to access it. So if anyone for any reason is off-line for a few days, we can still operate.
We use LastPass but there are many others. You absolutely do not want, in this day and age, anyone with a set of passwords that a hacker can access on a phone or PC. Use dual authentication and enforce it so people can log into systems without actually knowing the password. Get someone trained and get this up and running.
Preferably where the staff aren’t overseas. Once a month, someone signs onto everyone’s machine, wipes out all the Candy Crush and other games, updates everything and make sure that our security systems are in place. We also get them to wipe out all automatic passwords in all the browsers because we absolutely do not need that getting hacked.
Cameras on, hopefully not pointed at a bunch of things we’d rather not see. Get your team screens for their backgrounds if they are talking to clients. They can wear pajamas on their bottoms, but their tops should look good online.
Treat email like gold. Use it sparingly. Use online messaging systems like MS Teams, or Webex Teams or Slack, because emails are going to go through the roof. We almost never send anything by email. It is far more collaborative to have everyone chatting on Teams. If there seems to be stress building, pick up the phone. Get HR on the line.
We meet every week, we have a set agenda, we have standard templates for everything, we have an online dashboard that auto sends our reminders of what we have to do, everyone does a status report, we discuss all issues, break out into smaller teams as necessary.
We shared some more insight into making virtual meetings work in "The Complete Guide to Virtual Meetings."
We have centralized online dashboards. People can click a link to submit issues or ideas before a management call and those are covered off every week, reprioritized and actions made. Everything, all projects, goals, 90-day plans is captured in that online dashboard where we can go and find anything we need anytime.
Want some help? We can give you someone for a few hours a week who could probably change your life and get you fast-tracked working remotely.