Set up your team for remote work

With many of our member firms working through how best to keep teams connected when staff are in the field and office staff are working remotely, we’ve been asked for recommendations for staying productive and on task. Here are some best practices for fostering collaboration when your teams find themselves working remotely.

Set up your team for remote work

Make sure your team has the right tools and processes set up before you transition from working at the office to working from home. Once they’re set up, here are a few extra steps you can take in advance: 

Set a Schedule. Regular working hours may change, especially with kids to look after. Block off time to focus on your work and let your team know what your new schedule will look like. You can also proactively inform your co-workers of your own availability by scheduling “working hours” in your Calendar. That way, if a team member tries to schedule a meeting they know when you are available.

Provide tools for collaboration. 

  • You might consider moving to a cloud-based platform like Procore, SharePoint, One Drive, Google Drive, or DropBox where your team can store, search, and access files from any device. 
  • When you’d usually pop your head in someone’s office, use a ‘chat’ feature for quick correspondence – Skype, Slack, Google Chat, and other messenger tools allow your team to stay connected. One-on-one and group chats are a great way to stay connected and have fun, light conversations you’d have in the office.
  • For conference calls or video calls, tools like Skype, Zoom, and Join.Me are go-to resources that have been reliable during the transition to online work.


Keep your team connected and organized each day

Now that your team is set up and everyone’s ready to work from home, it’s important to keep everyone on the same page. Now that your team is set up and ready to work from home, here are some ways to keep everyone on the same page.

Hold daily meetings or regular check in meetings as often as you see fit to stay connected with your co-workers. Working at home can be isolating for some, and video conferencing is a great way to keep people engaged. Try to be visible on camera when appropriate, provide relevant content, and ask questions to spark conversations. These can be one-on-one meetings, team meetings or end-of-day check-ins. Don’t neglect the small talk – keep meetings light by having a check-in at the start to share news, family updates, etc.

Share goals and updates regularly. Whether it’s through a chat group or in a shared document that everyone updates,  a record of what’s being accomplished is a great way to feel connected, keep everyone up to date, and follow-up on action items. You can also set up an internal site to consolidate important information and resources into a central hub for your team, or to share information with your organization more broadly.

Continue to practice good workplace etiquette. Just because your team isn’t at the office doesn’t mean they’re not busy. Check other’s calendars before scheduling meetings, and when you reach out via chat, start by asking if it’s a good time to talk.

Getting your work done (on the Wi-Fi) at home

Sharing space—and an internet connection—at home means you might need to be mindful of the needs of others in your household. Here are a few tips.

Don’t spend all day on video. There are many tools at your disposal for staying in touch with your team, whether it's a chat room, a shared document, or a quick conference all. Pick what works best—especially if you’re sharing an internet connection with others who need to use connectivity tools for work or school. Make sure your router is in an open area, move it closer to your work at home area if needed. Disconnect other devices that might use up your Internet band with. 

Find the right set-up for you. You might need to try a few different configurations before you discover how to stay focused and not distract others. Set up a designated workstation, preferably with a door you can close to help you focus on work. Protect your posture too – don’t hunch over a laptop on the dining room table, set up monitors or your laptop at eye-level and sit in an office chair if possible.

Stay active. Working from home can make you feel restless since you aren’t in the usual active environment. Make sure to take breaks, eat, exercise, go outside, etc.

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