3 Tips for Working with Remote Teams
Today, many of us have to work remotely – without much preparation or planning beforehand. What can you do, as a support manager or executive, to help your team? Here are three ideas from Françoise Tourniaire, Founder and Owner of FT Works and Author of The Art of Support, for helping remote team members work better together and continue to deliver great service to customers, regardless of whether they’re working together in an office, or alone at home.
Today, many of us have to work remotely—without much preparation or planning – to help contain the COVID 19 pandemic.
I’ve worked from home, full-time for over 20 years. Along the way, I’ve acquired a proper office setup, learned to stay away from the refrigerator and YouTube, and found ways to collaborate with partners, some of whom I’ve never met in person. Your team members who don’t usually work from home have to learn all that, and all of us have concerns and worries about our health, our family’s health, our friends, and how we will entertain the children who are no longer in school.
So what can you do, as a support manager or executive, to help your team? Here are three ideas:
Idea #1: provide structure
Meaningful work provides purpose and peace of mind, so do all you can to help team members structure their days.
- Hold a daily standup meeting. Maybe you already do, in which case all you need is move it to an online conference format. If you don’t, start one. Emergencies make it possible to introduce new, best practices.
- Reach out to each team member every day. Yes, it is a lot of work. Yes, it will completely transform the experience from disconnected to connected. Yes, it will allow you to assess your team members’ state of mind, and provide a little kindness and warmth.
- Share availability windows. Team members’ schedules may be complicated by unaccustomed home responsibilities such as childcare or checking in on elderly relatives. Maintain a shared schedule for “in-office” times.
Idea #2: foster collaboration with tech huddles
Whatever your support model, collaboration happens in the office every day, in kitchens and hallways and across work tables, as much as in Slack or other tools. Remote workers suddenly lose the kitchen and hallway and shared work space. Organize daily, perhaps twice-daily technical huddles to review tough cases and provide on-the-spot suggestions. For extra-credit, ask the recipients of help to write up what they learn in the knowledge base.
Tech huddles can occur with your colleagues in the engineering team, too.
Idea #3: build or improve your skills matrix
A critical obstacle for remote work is knowing who can help with what. If you have a skills matrix, wonderful, but it’s likely obsolete. Create or fix up the skills matrix so each support engineer can reach the right resource without having to wait for the tech huddle. (Ideally, the tech huddle should focus on situations where the case owner doesn’t know where to start.)
Along with skills information, add availability information to the skills matrix for one-stop shopping.
There’s a silver lining
Emergencies challenge us as leaders but they also provide an opportunity to strengthen the team. Having gone through tough times together (successfully!) increases the level of trust. And you can count on continuing the best practices you introduced, from tech huddles to active knowledge management, in the future.