If 2020 taught us anything, it was the importance of agility and resiliency. The global pandemic has fundamentally changed the way businesses across almost every industry operate. Perhaps one of the most impactful changes was the shift to remote working – something that was accelerated far more rapidly than many organizations had ever anticipated. This was especially the case with IT, the department tasked with the burden of keeping the lights on, despite the disruptive circumstances.
Now, as we begin to settle into the so-called “new normal,” it’s becoming increasingly clear that the virtual workforce is here to stay. For those leaders facing the challenge of managing remote IT teams, here are a few helpful tips to keep everyone on track.
First things first. If you want to set your dispersed IT team up for success, make sure to arm them with all the technology that they need. We’re not just talking about physical equipment, either. Beyond laptops, modems and headsets, invest in tools and platforms that will make it as efficient as possible for them to effectively perform their duties.
Intelligent automation, for example, can take much of the grunt work off their plates, freeing them up to focus on mission-critical tasks while simultaneously ensuring that everything that needs to get done gets done. This can also be a powerful tool for teams that are struggling with limited human resources, for whatever reason. IT automation can be that extra set of hands when staff is tight.
When working from home as opposed to part of a physically present team, it’s easy to become distant and begin to feel isolated. Add to this the stress and anxiety many people are experiencing due to the current health crisis, and you’ve got a recipe for potential disaster on your hands.
It’s not enough to simply make yourself available to your remote employees. You should take things a step further by proactively making an effort to stay in communication with each team member. This can be done via regular group meetings, one-on-ones or even virtual social hours. We’ve got the technology today to stay hyper-connected. Be sure to use it to your team’s advantage.
At some point, online team meetings will inevitably become cumbersome and won’t always be the most efficient use of everyone’s time. To prevent fatigue and keep your team engaged, leverage online collaboration technologies, such as instant messaging, document sharing platforms, like Google Drive, and virtual workspaces, such as Slack or Yammer.
Being able to connect and work alongside colleagues in real-time, regardless of physical location, can help keep productivity high. It can also work wonders for morale. According to a survey by Telus, when asked what they missed most about working in an office setting, many respondents cited small talk and co-worker interaction at the top of their list. Providing this on a virtual level is the next best thing.
Be disciplined (and lead by example).
Working from home can be a very different dynamic from working in the office. IT leaders (and leaders in any field, frankly) can benefit from treating their virtual roles the same as their in-person ones. In other words, don’t let your schedule become lax, or be tempted to work from your couch.
Instead, approach each day just as you would if you were heading in to the office. Wake up at a decent time. Get ready. Start work at the normal time. Staying in a routine – and encouraging your team to do the same – can have a tremendous impact on productivity.
Likewise, designating an area of your home that will be dedicated to working only can also be effective in helping you stay focused and prevent distractions that are inevitable when working from home. It can also help in establishing and maintaining better work-life balance.
Transitioning from on-site management to a virtual workforce has been incredibly challenging – especially for business leaders who are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the lack of face-time with employees. Following the above guidelines should make things much easier to deal with, both for managers as well as remote employees.
Still struggling? Check out our extensive Work from Home Support Resources or get in touch today!