This transition has been so weird, for so many people.
Maybe you had thought that one day you might transition your team to go remote. Maybe work from home on Thursdays or something like that? But now it isn’t a maybe, and if you want to get anything done you have to have it done remotely.
This is some advice I have for people who are suddenly transitioning, have been in this for a few weeks, and it feels awful. I had my first remote corporate job in 2013. From that experience, I have a lot of valuable takeaways.
Work with people you trust, and trust the people you work with.
You’ll make it easier on yourself if you accept that you put your team in place for a very good reason. Don’t be overly focused on whether somebody is giving you their all. Unlike office work, remote work does not reward butt-in-chair time. Everybody – everybody – is doing the best that they can.
Don’t reward people for responding to you at 10 PM. Don’t expect people to respond to you at 10 PM. Remember that everybody is at home. So don’t punish parents. Don’t expect people to have a minute to talk on the phone right when you need to. Make sure that everything you’re doing focuses on results, getting things done. Down the line, if it turns out you were wrong to place trust in someone, you can make those adjustments then.
Focus on good project management.
First – you know those memes about meetings that should have been e-mail? Make them e-mails now.
Next, if you need something from someone, just ask for it. How you ask for it makes a big difference though. My team is small but we are all remote. My team is in New Hampshire, I’m in Phoenix, and I don’t like the idea of sending my team e-mails about tasks because e-mails have a way of just getting lost.
So I have a project management tool. I use ClickUp. I feel like you need to do your own research on the tool that works best for your particular brain. If you have a couple of people on your team ClickUp or Basecamp are the two that I would recommend but there’s a lot of different research on other tools out there you can dive into.
Whatever tool you use, make sure that you are assigning people tasks and that in the task itself you explain it well enough so that they can just do it. Another important feature of project management tools is that they help coordinate resources and documents. My projects are web-based. So, if someone needs to edit a document we do it in Google Docs. We have a cloud-based everything, so that if something happens like my remote employees get sick, then I can jump in and finish client projects.
You should also give each task a due date. This is something I struggled with it first because I run a marketing company and so due dates didn’t feel very crucial. I don’t feel right about saying “I need this yesterday!” You don’t want to be Mr. Spacely from The Jetsons.
You want to make sure that you’re rewarding people for getting projects done. Give people reasonable timelines. Don’t make anything due the same day you assign it, because that means you are rearranging somebody’s entire day. As someone who was on the receiving end of that in my corporate job, it’s really stressful when somebody says I need this by the end of the day today.
It’s so easy to forget to take time zones into consideration. So, right now my team is three hours ahead of me. If I said I needed something by the end of the day today – and I said it anytime after mid-morning – what I’m saying is stop everything you’re doing and get it to me right now. Almost nothing in any corporate situation that urgent. If I say tomorrow, fine. But you also have to say something about the deadline – you can’t not set a deadline. Otherwise, they have to respond to the assignment as though it is due immediately.
Trust people. Manage the projects. Keep tasks out of e-mail.
It’s a huge transition and I’m here to help get your team transitioned online if you want. Book a call with me and we can talk about ways to make your transition easier.