Are you interested in leaving the office cubicle for the work-from-home adventure with your team? Hold your horses for a bit. It might not be as seamless as most people like to believe.
Working from home hosts a lot of benefits but comes with its own set of challenges. Get yourself ready for the home-based grind by following these tips.
Align with common goals for the team despite the distance.
What will push your entire team together or propel you to greater heights is the common goal. Your aspirations as a team will drive you forward. In Jim Collins’s book “Good to Great,” he emphasizes what’s called a Level 5 Leadership.
While the study focused on corporations, the principle applies even to work-from-home folks or teams. Level 5 leadership is the type of culture where people genuinely care about what’s best for the team above their comfort and preferences. If you maintain this care for the welfare of the team’s professional delivery, then you won’t have any problem getting them to do complicated tasks even if you don’t hover over their shoulders to supervise them.
Take advantage of the technology.
To make sure that no task falls through the cracks, take advantage of group management software and online communication tools, like Slack or Skype. Make sure that everyone has what they need to do their work autonomously. There are so many tools, but don’t be paralyzed by them. Use the minimum tools required to let you collaborate seamlessly, and make sure that you rotate passwords and access privileges for your online security of operations.
Focus on output, not on hours logged.
Have a basket or list of output for any given period and focus on accomplishing the big rocks or the top priorities over the small stones. A mix of short and long-term deliveries is a good balance that each team member must aspire to have.
Set a standard of Internet reliability.
Serious workers who want to kill it even if they are only working in their pajamas need the basics: a good working computer or laptop and a reliable Internet connection. Make sure that each team member has a backup access strategy and that files are also uploaded to the cloud in case a virus or crash ruins their machine locally. That way, they can quickly pick up where they left off and have a fail safe for their outputs.
Set aside occasional facetime if possible.
The team is still not immune to isolation. Team building and occasional co-working is essential to the longevity and sustaining of the team culture. If this is not possible, encourage your remote workers to get out and loosen up with their friends with mandatory social media and digital detox.
Promote a virtual environment of focus and synergy.
While light moments are allowed, make sure that 80-90% of the time, focus is promoted. Encourage team members in the remote group to enrich themselves with TED talks, read books, attend cultural enrichment activities, and get some online courses to upgrade their professional track further with cutting-edge tools.
Operate with as much transparency as possible.
If the project involves code or collaborative outputs, make sure that they are easily accessible in a centralized location, like Dropbox or Google Drive. Make this easy to access so that time won’t be spent volleying e-mails about locating things.
Ultimately, the success of your team depends on your ability to operate like a lean and mean machine. Keep striving to improve the team in spite of the distance, and you will be surprised by the heights that this can take you in time.