Through our experience of setting up customers for remote working and managing our own remote teams, we’ve found that there is one critical ingredient to success.
Most organisations have embraced software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, so accessing systems remotely isn’t usually the biggest issue. No, the biggest issue is maintaining communication, particularly non-verbal communication, between team members. This is essential for good working relationships, trust and rapport, all of which boost teamwork, productivity and success.
Whether your team members are handling queries on your customer contact platform or delivering services to tenants remotely, they need to feel connected. They need to be supporting one another and, depending on their role, working closely with tenants and partners to get their jobs done.
How do you promote collaboration across your organisation and guarantee success from your teams during these challenging times? Here are some of the ways we’ve achieved this and maintained business as usual:
1. Providing the right tools
It’s difficult for people to feel connected when using text-based or voice mediums only. The latest collaboration tools vastly improve this situation, so we’ve been encouraging teams to use them – internally and externally with customers, partners and tenants.
Now, remote teams can make high-quality audio and video calls, share content and chat in virtual meeting rooms, all within a single app. This is seamless and easy to use.
2. Leading by example
We’ve been encouraging our managers to lead the way and stay in touch with their teams. If you’re a manager, you need to be monitoring your team’s performance to ensure success, and the best way to do this is through regular communications.
Bear in mind though, that while monitoring your team is important, you also need to trust them to get their jobs done. Over-monitoring and micromanaging will only damage relationships and productivity.
3. Coordinating work with apps
When you can’t just turn to a team member in the office and allocate a task, the next best thing is to use a workforce task management system (such as Asana) to log, allocate and progress tasks. Sometimes, more discussion is needed around tasks, which is where virtual meeting rooms come in useful.
Here at N4Engage, we use ‘Spaces’ in Cisco Webex Teams to discuss projects or issues with the relevant people. Documents can be shared and co-edited, messages can be sent and commented on and audio/video calls set up with a single click. When necessary, we can bring external stakeholders such as customers, partners and tenants into Spaces so they’re kept in the loop.
4. Removing legacy technologies
Several of our customers have taken the mass move to remote working as an opportunity to review their collaboration systems. We’ve helped them ‘spring clean’ away some of the legacy technology that is holding them back from business as usual.
Often, legacy collaboration technology won’t easily (or economically) integrate with other business systems, which makes it frustrating for staff to use and reduces productivity.
Fortunately, almost all of the latest collaboration systems include APIs or bots which make integration easier and richer. Why not consider a ‘spring clean’, removing the technology that’s costing you extra time, money and limiting your success?
We know that managing remote teams is a huge challenge in the current climate. But there are collaboration tools out there to help you, and coupled with effective leadership, they can make all the difference.
Richard Buxton is a director of N4Engage.