By the end of 2021, we expect almost a third of the workforce to be working mostly from home. We have been seeing the shifts to digital for the last six months. We have also been seeing the internal struggles small businesses have been facing during the transition. Hiring virtually requires a different mindset, different policies, different accountability. It’s vital to have specific procedures in place before switching over your staff or hiring. Here’s what you need to do to set your company and your employees up for success:
Let go of Strict Scheduling
Many small business owners believe that working 9-5 is the only way to get things done on time. However, it is becoming clear that there is no correlation between productivity and a tight 40 hour work week. Of course there are some positions that require specific work hours, but if you are allowing your staff to work virtual, letting go of the reins is the first step into letting your employees find their sweet productivity spot.
Virtual employees can’t walk down the hall to ask for clarification. If you have an in-person open door policy, make sure that translates to your virtual employees. Have a tab open for employee chats. Make sure employees know how to reach you and their supervisors. Professors set office hours, adopt that practice to make sure that you set aside dedicated time to answer questions and concerns.
Get the Right Technology
Do not skimp on technology up front. Invest in good laptops, company phones, software programs, cyber security, protective casings, warranties, IT department, whatever your company needs to be successful. Life happens. The internet goes down, you lock yourself out of the computer, files get corrupted. Doing preventative work up front is the best way to cover your bases. Another part of using technology is understanding that it is not a flawless system. Acknowledge up front that there will be snafus, and that is ok.
What are you looking for? Clear boundaries, needs, policies, and procedures need to be as concise as they can be. Update your job descriptions to include software, daily tasks and how their daily tasks fit into the company vision, the training they will receive, absolute requirements. People need to know what they are doing and WHY they are doing it. The why creates a deeper understanding of the job at hand, and will also attract the right candidates or encourage current engagement.
Host Virtual Round Tables
Virtual does not mean antisocial. It also does not mean you have to host an hour meeting every day. Hosting weekly roundtables where your staff can bring up successes and questions with a group is great for building team confidence and also weeding out where explanations need to be tightened up. For example, we have one long weekly meeting to discuss business (where we are, what the week will look like). Through the rest of the week, we have several 10 minute check ins to chat about mental state, quick questions, personal successes, and to see what each member needs that day to be successful.
This is the single most important step to having a successful virtual team. You need to build relationships and trust with your managers and employees. You need to trust them to do their job, ask questions, and be engaged. If you cannot, you need to take a look at your hiring decisions or your traditional managing style. If employees feel distrusted, mistreated, misunderstood, they will be unable to do their job successfully. Company culture does not only exist in the office.