By Katya Linossi, ClearPeople
Every business is a simple collection of people. All with different interests, passions, ideas and workstyles. Ensuring those individuals can work together productively, and as one, is always a challenge for even the most experienced HR professional.
This challenge is made even greater when teams work remotely, eliminating standard social norms and the conventions of basic face to face interaction. This is the situation many of us have been in for a few months now, exacerbated further with the pandemic eliminating any possibility of in-person contact.
At ClearPeople, we have worked to help some of the world’s largest and most dispersed businesses, such as Tokio Marine HCC with staff working across 180 countries, to unite their staff virtually and create essential processes to ensure efficiency and effectiveness regardless of their location.
As many businesses continue to work remotely, these challenges will continue, but we believe with simple structure, the majority can be overcome.
We’ve all been there. Wasting time looking for something, sure we knew where it was but obviously didn’t. In person, you would simply turn to a colleague but this isn’t so simple remotely. Imagine you’re a new employee or returning from a long furlough to a new organisation structure, how would you know where to find anything? For remote-working companies, it’s vital that training and knowledge sharing must continue online.
Our expertise working with knowledge-intensive organisations inspired us to innovate and develop Atlas to ensure that everyone is able to work as they please, wherever they are, with all the information and tools at their disposal.
Naturally, we are all creatures of habit. We like knowing what we are doing. The issue with working in isolation is that staff decide to work that way, often selfishly, because they only see their own world opposed to part of a bigger picture. This isn’t helpful for morale nor for productivity.
Ensuring you have regular scheduled meetings and catch ups arranged is vital. And we don’t just mean “work”. When you’re with others in an office, you’ll have a catch up over a coffee or wherever about everyday life. It’s important for your team dynamic that this continues online.
It’s often the little touches that get missed when we go into our own bubble. To push against this, we implemented informal coffee catch-ups and company-wide weekly check-ins to encourage people to be themselves.
Continuing on the theme of social convention, it’s easy to know if someone is busy or not in public. They could have their headphones in or be on a call. This isn’t so simple from afar. As a result, people could be distracted from important tasks by others interrupting them, or people could not ask a question in fear, resulting in a drop in productivity. Ensuring that your team and organisation have agreements regarding collaborating should minimise these challenges.
A simple step is to make the most of the technology at your disposal. We work with Microsoft as one of their lead partners here in the UK, and help our clients to optimise their digital workspaces. Simple things like setting statuses for when you are on a call, on lunch, happy to be contacted or not, opens up the lines of communication internally.
The technology available to all businesses, both large and small, can play a huge role in ensuring the productivity of your staff. We’re all over burdened by content; from irrelevant and news to the constant stimulation of emails, pings and phone calls, it can be overwhelming. How do we cut through the noise and demands for our attention and focus on the task at hand? Being able to select what to be notified about and when is key. There are various filters and tools available to help declutter our working lives and stop the overloaded, which will give your team the space to operate at their best.
Finally, communication. The root cause of both success and failure in equal measure. As highlighted, we all must work together to succeed, and as HR professionals, the challenge is to ensure that correct balance.
Whilst people are working from home, they could as easily be chatting about work as anything else. By opening up communication channels; from Slack to Yammer and many others, we can drive that collaborative culture required from a disparate team.
The implementation of a “Champion Network” to help with the adoption of new working habits or to be that person for others to turn to, is something we’ve seen work across hundreds of businesses globally.
In my role as CEO, I make a concerted effort to over communicate. I believe it’s important our team knows as much as possible about our business. We deliver and record our regular company announcements so anyone who was unavailable to join is included.
In this “new normal”, every business is having to adapt quickly but remote working should be seen to be a significant opportunity, both on a financial side with lower costs and on a personal level, allowing individuals more freedom.
It’s important that the culture of any company remains as consistent and positive through these challenging times, and just because your staff aren’t together, doesn’t mean that can’t work as one.