Changing work environments (how to run a productive remote team)

TL;DR:

  • For many businesses that turned to remote work during the pandemic, this change is here to stay: More than 80% of business leaders say they plan to accommodate remote work options in a post-pandemic future.
  • Despite the promise and appeal of remote work, this business model offers value only if you invest in the right software and tools to support employees on a day-to-day basis.
  • Software investments and upgrades should be paired with strategic changes in how leadership tracks productivity, motivates workers, and provides coaching to workers on a one-on-one basis.

The pandemic may have accelerated the rise of remote work. Still, work-from-home arrangements have been steadily gaining steam for years. Between 2010 to 2020, the number of full-time remote workers in the United States grew 400% according to a GetApp report, with both businesses and their workers discovering the benefits of remote work.

Innovations in technology have made remote work more practical, and the pandemic has forced a rapid, widespread adoption of flexible work arrangements. But some of these changes are here to stay: In a Gartner survey, more than 80% of business leaders said they plan to allow more remote work options in their post-pandemic future.

When implemented properly, remote work — even as part of a hybrid workforce management model — can create new benefits and value for both businesses and their workers. Here’s how your business can leverage these changing workforce trends with the right tools.

The challenges of managing a remote work environment

Before you can realize the benefits of remote work, your organization must address some of the greatest challenges associated with remote work setups. Left unaddressed, these challenges could undermine, or even eliminate, the value you’re able to create with permanent remote work arrangements.

These challenges include:

  • Reduced day-to-day oversight of employees: Managers and executives often worry that remote work might make it impossible to monitor employees and ensure they remain on task. A lack of remote collaboration and project management tools can turn this lack of visibility into a serious liability.
  • Poor communication among team members and between management and employees: From lead management to project workflows, tasks are accomplished slower and less efficiently.
  • Social isolation and lower employee morale: A lack of social interaction can lead to unhappy and disconnected employees, impacting productivity and, potentially, employee retention.
  • Disrupted productivity due to tech limitations: Even if employees are motivated to perform well when working from home, software limitations could stand in the way of their efforts.
  • Distractions at home: From a knock at the door to kids coming home from school, distractions can chip away at employees’ productivity.
  • Poor rapport between management and staff: Less face-to-face time can stifle relationship development, disrupting your organization’s team-based approach.

Although these pain points can disrupt a poorly managed remote work environment, the right software and collaboration tools can eliminate this friction and help you leverage remote work to achieve greater efficiencies.

How businesses can create value from remote work setups

Remote work isn’t just a trend driven by employee preference — although the appeal of remote work to employees is a potential source of value for any business. As you look ahead to a post-pandemic future, the role and value of remote work will likely change within your organization.

Although the value of this work arrangement might shift, it will likely exist in the following forms:

  • Reduced business overhead and expenses: Even partial remote work arrangements can help businesses cut down on office space, supplies, utilities, and other costs associated with the traditional office.
  • An expanded talent pool when hiring for positions: Remote positions expand your available talent pool beyond your local market, increasing competition for your positions.
  • Increased productivity: With supportive tools and flexible schedules, a well-managed remote work environment can increase employees’ productivity.
  • Less commute time and sick days for your employees: Employees have more time in their day and fewer barriers, which increases both morale and availability.
  • A reduced carbon footprint: When you cut out commutes and shift more business activities online, energy and resource consumption is reduced, helping your business achieve its green initiatives.
  • Higher employee retention and satisfaction rates: When remote work boosts morale and supports flexibility, employees will inevitably be happier in their roles.
  • Better disaster preparedness for your organization: If a disaster or some other emergency impacts your ability to work from the office, remote work arrangements offer a seamless alternative, allowing you to maintain business continuity amid this disruption.

Best practices for managing a remote workforce

To realize the potential of a remote workforce, you need the right tools and policies in place. The following best practices can facilitate a smoother transition and greater overall value for remote work arrangements:

  • Use regular meetings as check-ins to keep everyone connected. Short daily meetings can improve communication and visibility among teams while boosting morale.
  • Track productivity, performance, and outcomes for each worker. Remote work software can help you keep tabs on productivity, providing metrics and insights that even in-person work arrangements may fail to highlight.
  • Make sure employees have the right technology. From webcams to a cloud-based CRM, remote work requires the right tools.
  • Communicate across multiple channels, including email, video, and chat. These communication channels should be emphasized in a remote work environment where regular interactions require a proactive approach.
  • Make time for one-on-one communication between managers and workers. Video calls are a great opportunity to check in, assess employee morale, provide coaching, and answer important questions.
  • Embrace flexible scheduling. Remote work arrangements can help employees build their schedules around child care and other commitments.
  • Organize teams around common goals. Teams can be motivated through a collective focus on objectives laid out by management. These objectives can be used to provide short-term incentives that keep employees focused on day-to-day productivity.
  • Identify the metrics that reflect remote work success for your organization. Establishing key metrics can guide employees and help them thrive as they transition to remote work.
  • Provide more outlets for social interaction. Because watercooler conversations aren’t an option in a remote setting, your business should be intentional about sponsoring happy hours and other social outlets for employees.
  • Use performance metrics to manage change and improve results. Identify metrics that reflect remote work success, such as performance changes compared to regular office work, and use these insights to coach employees and enact better management policies.
  • Look for warning signs of stress or isolation among your employees. Each employee has their own relationship with remote work. Although many employees may welcome it, others may struggle with social isolation. If you notice any change in your employees’ morale, demeanor, or performance, connect with them individually to see if there’s anything you can do to help.
  • Be open to new technology and solutions that improve your operations. It bears repeating: The ceiling of your remote workforce is largely determined by your ability to equip employees with software solutions that enable their success.

Adopt the right tools to support remote collaboration

The rise in remote work is possible only through the tech innovations developed over the past decade. Collaborative cloud-based tools, high-speed internet connections, and mobile devices are the cornerstones of a successful remote work setup.

In order to seamlessly transition to remote work, your business will need to adopt a platform that has everything you need. You need a system that has everything in one place, that is easily accessible from anywhere, and that integrates seamlessly with the tools you already use.

A successful remote business will need the following solutions:

  • Cloud-based storage: Your business should invest in cloud-based storage to provide secure, teamwide access to business assets.
  • Video conferencing software: Virtual meetings will become a standard practice at most businesses.
  • A call tracking and lead management platform: Coordinating sales activities is crucial in any business environment — but it’s particularly challenging when your sales team is partially or fully remote. Call tracking software logs data from inbound calls, routes calls to remote sales representatives, documents interactions, and consolidates customer data to give sales teams everything they need to engage a prospect. Tools such as CallRail’s Lead Center serve as a centralized communications hub that’s perfectly equipped to support a remote sales team.
  • Automation tools such as Conversation Intelligence: Conversation Intelligence can automatically transcribe phone calls and use artificial intelligence (AI) to identify trends in each conversation to support customer analytics and improve prospect engagement, both now and in the future.
  • Marketing attribution and lead engagement tools such as form tracking software: Like call tracking, form tracking software facilitates faster lead response times and improves coordination across your sales team. Marketing attribution shows you the full customer journey and helps you understand which channels and activities generate the most value for your business.
  • Virtual communication tools: Whether your business uses a softphone or other communication tools, you should invest in virtual tools that enable professional communication with your customers and prospects. Software like the Lead Center mobile app can even help you organize communications, text customers, and transfer calls in a remote setting.

This compilation of technology can seem daunting, and attempting to establish these solutions separately can seem impossible. That’s why adopting a platform like CallRail can help.

CallRail’s solutions include Call Tracking, Lead Center, Conversation Intelligence, and Form Tracking to help you run a successful business from anywhere. You ultimately gain insights into your leads and marketing efforts, house your information all in one place, utilize automation across your devices, all while having the ability to easily integrate with other tools and grow your business.

Translate a winning company culture to a remote work environment

When transitioning from traditional workforce management to hybrid or fully remote setups, friction and hiccups are bound to happen. Workers are managing a change in their daily practices, and managers are adapting their leadership principles and learning how to motivate and support remote workers.

Find out how CallRail can support a successful remote workforce — sign up for a free trial today.