Ever since the pandemic forced the majority of businesses to work remotely, distributed working has remained a topic that dominates the news cycle. From companies offering $10 charitable donations(1) for those who make it in, to small tech businesses using working from home to gain the edge over bigger competitors(2) in the talent war, it’s something all companies contend with differently.
But beyond the noise, it’s clear that employees want the choice to work flexibly(3), and, according to Future Forum’s Pulse Report, are actually 29% more productive(3) because of it. It holds benefits for employee and employer alike, and the let-up of the pandemic shouldn’t mean business leaders take their foot off the gas in finding better ways of working beyond the office.
In this article, we explore how the world of remote working has evolved in the three-plus years we’ve all grown more familiar with it, and outline practical ways for leaders to guarantee that high-performing teams aren’t exclusive to the office.
The Key to Building an Effective Remote Working Culture
Building an effective remote working culture goes far beyond sending your team laptops and hoping their Wi-Fi holds up. The expectations employees have for their company, and their role in it, do not go away if they work remotely. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the ways business leaders can help their business flourish when managing remote team members:
Establish clear goals and expectations
One of the most important parts of managing a remote team is to set clear expectations. This could be as simple as outlining the productivity levels you expect to see, regardless of location. Or communicating that your expectations for excellent customer service extend to people’s homes too. Your goals might shift slightly—for instance, some workers prefer to do their focus work away from a busy office—but the outcome should be the same: high performance and satisfied customers.
Build trust and accountability
Trust and accountability are a major part of making remote working work well. It’s often interpreted as employees being the ones to have to earn trust and be held accountable—but this goes both ways. Leaders need to make assurances to their teams and work hard to ensure that things such as burnout, already prevalent in customer-facing teams, don’t take root and that their values and working practices extend to their hybrid teams too.
Each company will differ, so it’s essential you make sure remote working suits yours. A way of gauging this is to measure the performance of your team members both in and outside of the office. It’s not about looking over their shoulder or encouraging an always-on mentality, but rather seeing how performance differs from agent to agent based on location, and then doing more to drive these numbers in a positive direction.
One way of doing this is through analytics that show you how your total number of calls or conversion rate differs depending on each rep’s location.
Invest in the right tech
Without technology at its core, any remote or hybrid working setup will rely a little too heavily on telepathy and clairvoyance. While any business should invest in the right tech regardless of where they work, having a section of your employee base work remotely—and often across different time zones—requires tools that encourage accessibility and real-time collaboration, relying on cloud capabilities instead of physical hardware and disconnected desktops.
Implementing Effective Communication Strategies for Remote Teams
Arguably, the single greatest factor of an effective remote working environment is communication. By moving from an office filled with employees to having them scattered throughout the country or, who knows, the world, companies risk creating some serious silos and having a “team” (note the inverted commas) that barely collaborate with one another.
So, what should business leaders be on the lookout for if they are to keep lines of communication open between the remote worker, the office worker, and the business? You’ll want to consider the following:
One source of truth for everything—whether it’s customer data, previous communications, lead progression, or project progress
Clarification over whether your teams need to be contactable at all times, or whether you actively encourage focus time and breaks to reset
The right software and tools to encourage updates and asynchronous working, so that even without a DM, people remain in the loop
Integrations—with over 100 to choose from, Aircall knows how essential it is for your team’s tech solutions to work in harmony, and not just lead to more apps and more data entry
Managing Remote Team Performance
The right software and tools aren’t just useful for collaboration, but monitoring and scaling team performance too. Oversight of performance is essential to drive customer success as well as to ensure employees feel supported and a part of the overall business.
This isn’t always easy, and common challenges standing in the way of monitoring team performance can include:
1. A lack of face-to-face interaction
Despite how easy it is to send a DM, it can be difficult to see from afar whether someone is struggling with their workload or failing to get to grips with processes. This is why regular wellbeing check-ins that aren’t bolted on to meetings or anything else work-related are so important to still make time for.
2. An over-dependence on trust
Don’t get us wrong—trust is important. But when it comes to analytics such as calls made, conversion rate, and missed call rate—hard data is the way to go. This will ensure the accuracy of the information while also saving your reps valuable time that would otherwise be spent compiling their own data.
3. No historic reference
The everyday life of a business leader requires them to look back, as well as forward. And that means having easy access to historic conversations and details around deals in one single place. This means the truth remains intact regardless of who’s on vacation or who has left the company.
For an example of how a business retains oversight of remote team performance, look no further than Aircall customer CleanCloud. A leading software solution for laundromats, dry cleaners, shoe repair services, and more, CleanCloud’s mission is to bring convenience to its customers.
For the CleanCloud team, this means using Aircall’s dashboard and analytics to track team performance for its employees—including those working remotely. Not only that, but the team was able to decide what balance of days in the office and at home benefited performance the most.
Analytics are essential to monitoring team performance and the more real-time and accessible they are, the better. Business leaders should remember to speak to their teams too though. Analytics is only half the story, and when encouraging a culture of communication—they don’t want to be the ones letting the side down.
The Path to Remote Team Productivity
There is no solid reason why remote working can’t deliver results for your organization. But like any other business practice, it needs strategy, guidelines, investment, and encouragement.
As we have explored here, it also needs the right software. There are plenty of tools out there that can streamline remote work setups and take your collaboration and communication to the next level.
Building an efficient remote working environment remains a learning curve for most businesses, but through tools and partners such as Aircall, it is easily achievable. Aircall prides itself on being a true partner to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Whether you have everyone in the office, spread throughout the world, or somewhere in between, Aircall connects people and ensures that your customer gets the first-class customer experience they deserve.
Published on August 17, 2023.