For the majority of remote teams, communication is the key to success. Each member of the team must know what the others are working on. This is something that can be easily lost when the entire team is working remotely. Remote teams simply cannot function with inadequate communication between its members. Short daily meetings over Skype or Zoom is a great way to do this. The truth is, it doesn’t matter which remote tool you decide to use; just as long as your team has a good line of communication, your remote workers won’t feel isolated from one another. The key is that all members of the team have access to it and can use it.
Zoom sets up easily, and team members seem to adapt quickly. There are a few things to keep in mind with any of these tools. You need a web camera and a microphone, which is standard on most laptops but need to be added to workstations. Next, remember that you have an active camera and microphone once the meeting starts. Some security considerations must be thought through because you are extending a business discussion into a home or location outside of your control.
The lack of company culture can plague any remote team. Sure, it’s easier for the boss to pop in to chat with a team that works in the same office, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t do the same with a remote team. Set up a daily Zoom meeting that is more like a coffee break than a formal meeting. Other tools allow you to chat, exchange messages or E-mail, or just talk. You don’t need to get fancy, just be available. Here are a few ideas to create highly motivated and productive teams:
- Prioritize regular check-ins so team members feel you are paying attention to them.
- Instead of the phone, use Zoom; activate your camera during the call and encourage others to as well, so your team does not lose their sense of community.
- Virtual meetings may not create the same interpersonal connection of a face to face meeting. That doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. Who wouldn’t appreciate the chance to take their mind off of current events? Try to laugh before jumping into business, advice from ProHabits.com/thrive.
I have found that one of the key ingredients to work culture is regular events and a schedule. We all start in the morning with our daily meetings and have a coffee break after lunch. You can do the same with a remote meeting.
Again, it isn’t rocket science. Case managers and Firm Administrators should be working hard to ensure that each member of their team has a clear idea of their expected working hours, all deadlines, what it is that the team is working towards, and even the policy on taking sick days. Establish a routine and have team members check in often. Not keeping track of what’s being done, who is doing what, and who isn’t doing what they are supposed to, is something that can destroy any team.
You should be aware of how much work your remote team is getting done, and at what rate? Luckily, there is a simple way to make sure you don’t end up in this situation, and it’s also an easy fix if you do find yourself in it: monitor and evaluate your remote employees using the same KPIs you would when dealing with in-house workers. There is an assumption that you have agreed to performance metrics. Most law firms use a case management system to track cases and can use that same tool to keep track of work done. The remote teams we have set up, keep track of everything they do in case notes, task checklist, and case milestones. A few reports that are run each day or week will develop a trend which will show who the top workers are.
The amount of work being done can be too much or not enough. Most managers are focused on getting the work done and who did the most, but you can also find a team member that does too much. That is the person that is always online and working. They tend to burn out over time and, in some cases, can destroy the morale of the team. Back to culture, set some expectations. Those expectations should include breaks, family time, and time off. Everyone likes to know the rules of the game, and they all want an even playing field. It is OK to have a special project, but the norm should be the same as it would be in the office. Tell everyone what the rules and expectations are and establish a routine.