Successful Remote Working: Everything You Need to Know
When you’re no longer able to have everyone come into the office, what do you do?
This is not something home builders had to think about until COVID-19. Coordinating a mass shift to remote working for all of your employees involves a lot of careful consideration.
This is all while still quickly adapting to, and learning, tools to help your home building team stay connected and communicate effectively.
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There will always be an urgent need for housing so it’s important to get set up for successful remote working as fast as possible.
The tips below will help you stay on track with your upcoming projects while you support your team’s transition into their new normal as they get used to working from home.
Use Instant Messaging Software
Your team may already use some form of instant messaging software to communicate and keep on top of tasks and projects. If it isn’t a company-wide expectation or you find yourself using email more than anything, here are two great suggestions you should look into.
Workplace by Facebook is a great work collaboration tool your team can use to chat one-on-one or in groups. You can post key updates in the groups you create so everyone can see where things are at. It’s easy to set up and there is next to no learning curve as the interface is very similar to Facebook which most people have used before.
Communicate often with your team and explain new features you discover that can help you as a whole. This is the platform we use in-house and we love it.
Slack is another instant messaging tool to consider. You can create separate threads for important projects, to-dos, or groups into chats and add the right team members to each one. This allows for more real-time communication on the status of projects and what everyone is working on.
Another instant messaging tool to add to this list is Teamwork Chat. You get searchable history, file sharing, different chat channel options and of course, integration with Teamwork itself. This tool offers both a desktop and mobile app for whichever your team would prefer.
Virtually Meet With Your Team
As your team deals with a very sudden change of workspace and the new ways of doing things, it’s more important than ever to have virtual meetings. It’s easy to feel disconnected so being able to meet with each other will allow your home building team to follow-up on tasks and check in on a personal level.
In addition, bringing back the social element of your workplace is huge for your team’s mental health and productivity because they still feel connected as they work towards common goals.
Zoom is a great virtual meeting software. There is a free version and the pro package is only $14.99 a month, which gives you access to more features. Having a meeting is as easy as simply sending out a link to your team!
Have a morning check-in meeting, which shouldn't be more than 15-20 minutes, depending on team size. These don't necessarily have to be everyday - our team has two/week. Find out what works best for your team. Everyone can check in with priority tasks and then if needed, team members can have a separate one-on-one meeting for anything that requires more details or followup.
You'll also want to schedule regular project update meetings so everyone involved in those projects knows a) where they're at and b) what still needs to be done.
Home Office Essentials
Almost everyone has a computer or laptop at home. This makes it easier to transition to remote working. However, if a team member needs help with a proper setup, be there for them and help accommodate their home technology needs however you can.
Having a dedicated workstation is a great way to get into the right mindset. Even if it's a small space, as long as you have a desk and ideally, some natural light, you and your team will be more productive in a familiar space and routine.
In an optimal situation, you would set this up in an entirely separate area/room like the spare bedroom or an unused corner of the basement. This doesn't always work out, though.
Make sure the workspace is functional as well. As mentioned, natural light is great, but if you can't have that make sure you have at least a good lamp. A comfortable chair and a good tech set up, along with a lack of clutter are also things you need to take in to account.
And working from home means you can add those personal touches that may not have been okay in the office. Scented candles, plants, your own playlist! Just try not to go overboard - you still need to look professional in video calls.
While most everyone has some type of computer, you do need to make sure it's decent. You'll have softwares you need to use and need to ensure it has the memory capacity to handle it.
Having a solid internet connection is a necessity. More people are online than normal, which could mean bandwidth and/or connection issues. Take a look at your current plan with your internet provider and see if you need to upgrade.
Since the majority of meetings and conversations are now conducted over video, a decent webcam is a must. Many computers and laptops have a webcam built in so check if that works for you. If not, you'll need to get one, like these options from Logitech.
Another piece of tech you need is a good microphone/headset, whichever you prefer. One thing to keep in mind? If you go with a microphone, your conversations will be heard by anyone else around you and it could pick up additional noise from where you are. Decent headsets are about $100 or less and many people use Apple headphones/ear buds have a built-in microphone.
Lead By Example
As you lead your home building team through new software and processes, make sure you’re also practicing what you preach.
Talk with your team members. Be available for virtual meetings and questions. Post important updates as they come your way. Share a funny meme to lighten the mood!
You need to keep your communication open - team members aren't able to pop over to your desk when they need to talk to you anymore.
Don't forget about some fun too! Group coffee breaks and lunch meetings, a Happy Hour on Friday afternoon - this will help keep your team feeling connected.
Security is an issue that can sometimes be overlooked with remote working, but can quickly become very serious if overlooked. Data breaches or, even worse, loss of physical hardware can become very expensive and cost a lot of time to resolve, which can easily be avoided if you follow a few simple procedures at the beginning:
- Provide Everyone With The Right Equipment. This may seem like an obvious step, but we feel it’s worth mentioning. Try to do everything you can to provide remote workers with a dedicated workstation that they can use, even if it’s just a laptop. Having employees work on their own computers that could be shared by other people is a very easy way to lose important data.
Don’t Use Public Wifi. Public wifi is, by its very nature of being open to everyone, very insecure. While there are certain steps you can take to mitigate the risk, by far the safest option is a strong policy on avoiding public wifi altogether.
Practice Good Password Hygiene. Instruct your employees not to use the same password for every service they use, and to change the passwords regularly. To prevent confusion, also consider using a password manager such as Dashlane or Bitwarden.
Other Things to Consider
One of the biggest tips for a successful remote working environment is to stick with your usual routine. Get ready for the day, turn the coffee on, and use your commute time for self-care. Read a book, tune into a podcast, or hit up your home gym to get your body moving.
Encourage safe exercise once a day. Getting out of the house for a walk for even 15 minutes can keep your team feeling fresh and motivated. They’ll also avoid cabin fever since their commute is a few steps across the hallway each day.
You’ll feel better and more productive when it feels like any other day. Take your breaks, stay hydrated, and remember you’re all in this together!
It’s much easier for everyone to get on board with a totally new work environment amidst all the uncertainty when they feel supported and connected.
This is a huge change for everyone and it will take some time for your team to get used to working remotely. Keep things positive - share good news with team members and praise whenever you can.
As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, there is a lot of uncertainty in the industry with how to react and keep business moving. We’re here to help you and right now we’re offering free consulting to anyone who is in need. We will provide advice, answer questions, help with brainstorming, PR and messaging ideas - anything you need help with. Simply contact us for a free consultation:
You can book as many consultation calls with us as you need. Lean on us. We’re here to help you and your organization navigate through this time of uncertainty. Stay safe and please let us know how we can help.
Originally published Apr 3, 2020, updated July 14, 2020.