In this blog, we tackle the hot topic of remote working, sharing our top tips on how to successfully transition to managing a remote team.
This month, we kicked off our brand-new blog series named Business after Brexit, in which we explore all the challenges and opportunities for companies operating both in a post-Brexit Britain, as well as the wider world.
However, in light of the uncertainty facing many of us during the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, Brexit could be set to become just another item in a long list of worries for many businesses.
But here at Wolfestone, we prefer to focus on solutions instead of problems.
How, then, can companies ensure that they are prepared for Brexit in the long-term, as well as tackling the shorter-term issues posed by COVID-19?
Remote Working: What’s the deal?
The topic on everyone’s lips in recent days has been remote working. We know that fostering an agile, dynamic work culture is a big plus for any company, whether that be to counter the uncertainty of a global pandemic or to continue cross-border business as normal as Britain leaves the EU.
But how do you actually make a success of remote working?
Well, we’re going to ask the people who have done it.
As a fully cloud-based business, Wolfestone Group have been successfully implementing remote working culture for some time already.
Scroll down to hear top tips from some of Wolfestone’s Executive Team on how to tackle remote working, both as a manager and a remote worker yourself.
But first thing’s first: Let’s take a brief look at why we’re going to need to prepare for a shift to increased remote working in the first place.
COVID-19 and Remote Working
For many office-based businesses, the brand-new social distancing guidelines issued by the UK Government are set to prove challenging.
They advise that everyone should work from home where possible. And let’s face it, many of us office-based workers are more than capable of carrying out our work remotely, and to a high standard at that.
However, here’s the thing. If you or your team isn’t 100% used to remote working, then this transition may be particularly stressful. It’s unlikely that you’ll have any time for an in-person briefing or strategy meeting, or to figure out the best way of communicating with your team. In short, many of us will be thrown in the deep end.
As jarring as this may feel, there is a silver lining: This period could be the nudge your company needs to prepare for the inevitable shift to increased remote working. What’s more, when this global uncertainty comes to an end, your team will be ready to hit the ground running with a new, flexible, blended working culture.
Brexit and Remote Working
Apart from the current COVID-19 situation, what other factors will contribute to the increase in remote working?
Well, Brexit will certainly have a significant role to play in growing remote team solutions.
You need only look at our own team here at Wolfestone Group for an example of Brexit’s impact on remote working.
In July last year, Wolfestone expanded its operations by opening its first Eastern European office in the Romanian capital of Bucharest. This was part of a commitment to growing its operational base in the region to offset any negative side effects of Brexit, which could restrict trade. This means that irrespective of the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, Wolfestone can run operations normally, alleviating any concerns that clients may have regarding Britain’s projected withdrawal from the EU.
However, Wolfestone also maintains its headquarters in Swansea, Wales, where it has been based since 2006. This means that the Wolfestone team have long been used to remote working, whether it be collaborating with colleagues remotely or managing a mixed team of office-based and remote staff.
And thanks to Brexit, this increase in remote working and working from home is set to become the norm for many UK-based companies.
So… What are the best ways to approach remote working?
We turned to our own talented team to find out.
Top Tips on Remote Working
Managing a Remote Team
Frequent communication without being overbearing
“Communication is key - it can feel isolating when people are working from home, as staff can miss the day-to-day updates that happen in and around the office. It’s therefore important to pass information onto remote staff but also make sure they know they can reach out to you or the team at any time. The tricky thing is finding the right balance between staying attentive to their needs and not being overbearing.” - Craig Alliss, Head of Sales
Skype rather than e-mail
“I find keeping in contact with the team via video helpful, as it makes a welcome change from communicating in writing or e-mail.” - Anna Bastek, CEO and co-founder
Setting clear KPIs and monitoring them, but with the staff member’s full knowledge and consent
“There are key indicators that aid with managing remote staff without needing to be constantly phoning, emailing or Skype calling. Setting clear KPIs and having the ability to monitor this activity without needing to ask is key. As long as staff are aware you are setting KPIs and monitoring them for their training and development, you can quickly identify problem areas, but more importantly celebrate and highlight areas of success!” - Craig Alliss, Head of Sales
Regular chats and activities
"I think it’s important to be having regular chats with colleagues to help counter feelings of isolation. We’re actually planning some remote activities in the next few weeks to keep morale up, which is crucial for a strong remote working culture." - Alex Parr, Managing Director
Making expectations clear
“Make sure the team knows their KPIs and objectives and your expectations of them – that gives them focus, and as a manager you can track their progress towards those rather than worry about how they're spending each day when you can't see them. It's about finding balance between making sure everyone is on track whilst ensuring the team knows you trust them to get on with things. If you don't trust your team to do their work just because they're remote, you have bigger issues than the distance!” - Chloë Driscoll, Operations Manager
Working from home
“Take regular breaks. You can be stuck at your desk and consume a lot of screen time when working from home. Take a break every 90 minutes or so, stretch your legs and, where possible, speak to someone – not necessarily about work. You will feel refreshed and be able to refocus on your ongoing tasks.” - Craig Alliss, Head of Sales
Move, move, move
“Get moving every hour at least!” - Anna Bastek, CEO and co-founder
“Having the radio on can help boost the atmosphere and any feelings of isolation” - Alex Parr, Managing Director
“Set tasks for the day - early on these tasks maybe set with your manager and these may change through the day as demands arise, but having clear tasks you would like to achieve will help you stay focused and you will feel great when you achieve what you have set out to do!” - Craig Alliss, Head of Sales