With the global coronavirus epidemic continually changing the business landscape, we face new challenges each day trying and keep our team safe. The UK, New Zealand, and parts of the USA have all now gone into social lockdown, and Australia is adhering to strict social distancing guidelines. The obvious choice is to relocate team members to work from home. But what does this look like?
I have been both working from home and managing remote team members many years. These team members include property managers, admin staff, and virtual assistants, so I thought that I might have some knowledge I can share in this space. While setting up your team to work from home may seem logistically easy, there are many variables we need to consider, including how we monitor their workload, performance, communication, and promote self wellbeing.
While setting up your team to work from home may seem logistically easy, there are many variables we need to consider...
Firstly let look at how we manage team workload with the same transparency we do face-to-face. Tech companies have been using a product called Trello for years. It has a base level subscription which is free and does all the thing you need it to do. It is just like a virtual whiteboard. We have embraced this tool in property management already, so you may find you are already using it in your business today. Have your team group their core tasks on the board so you can see what they are working on each day. Tasks help create transparency, but also team members can keep each other accountable.
Secondly is team performance. Each of our team members should be running a set of key performance indicators (KPIs). Anywhere from 7 to 10 will do given the urgency on introducing this if you are not already running KPIs. Use KPIs that are associated with their core duties. For example, rent arrears, expired leases, overdue maintenance, overdue inspections, and day vacant. This gives you a broad framework that reflects overall productively without having to micro-manage your team remotely. You can track these using a simple spreadsheet in Google Drive or dropbox.
This gives you a broad framework that reflects overall productively without having to micro-manage your team remotely
Communication is fundamental to operation remote staff. I would encourage you to have a short morning and afternoon group video call. This allows team members to see each other and bounce around any help they may need for the day to get through there work. It is also a great time to celebrate any team wins. There is a heap of free video meeting software out there, including Google Meet, Zoom, and Skype, if it is something you are more familiar with.
We also need a way to chat with each other throughout the day to solve problems, seek help, and share ideas. There are several free online chat programs available. The most popular is Slack. You can set your team up within ten minutes and be chatting. You create whats called channels or streams. These can be public, private, or direct message. Slack also has a mobile app making communication virtually instant no matter where your team is.
There are several free online chat programs available.
Finally, let's consider your team's wellbeing. We can use a combination of the above tools to ensure our team doesn't feel isolated when working from home. Can I suggest you continue with your weekly team meetings via video call? Give out awards, celebrate wins, and even review internal processes. Having the team engage and collaborate will help keep them engaged. You can use slack to run competitions and or give out Adhoc praise to keep morale high.
Setting up your team to work from home has its challenges; however, given the current landscape, this may be one of the most straightforward challenges we face. Working from home takes trust from both parties, however, creating the right virtual environment will keep work transparent and your team engaged.