Even though it has been a year since employees were sent to work remotely, individuals are still struggling to stay organized when working from home. If you or your clients need help, here are some ideas that have been helpful to many making the adjustment.
In order to keep your practice humming and even growing when your team is remote, you’ll need two things: technology and policies.
Remote web meeting platforms – There are many options for remote meetings, but depending on the size of your team, you may want to use one solution for clients and another that is more team-focused for your staff. Popular platforms include Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Skype. For teams, you could look into Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Slack, TeamViewer, and JoinMe. Research their security protocols since you may be discussing sensitive data in your meetings.
Project management solutions – There are many options that make it easy to collaborate remotely and keep everyone on track. It’s important to determine which platforms fulfill the particular needs of your practice and your clients. Teamhood and Jetpack Workflow are designed specifically for accounting and financial services. Other options include monday.com, Hive, Smartsheet, Asana, and Trello.
Secure cloud storage and client portal capabilities – Nowadays, secure cloud storage is a must. You will also want to offer your clients secure client portals so both you and they can share files instantly. Some options include Citrix Sharefile, SmartVault, and ProConnect Link.
Employee recognition platform – This is a nice plus if you want to show your appreciation in a public way, within the company, or across social media platforms. A few options include Fond, Assembly, Kudos, and Bonusly.
Successfully managing a remote team requires setting clear expectations. At the same time, you have to be willing to be flexible and trusting of your employees. Focus on results and outcomes. Write out policies in specific language and make sure every member of your staff receives a copy.
Communication – Decide on and clearly communicate when and how often you will hold meetings with your staff, both team meetings and one-on-one conferences. Your policies should also include how managers or individual team members will set up additional meetings with each other as needed and how to communicate it officially – for instance, through the project management tool, company calendar, or team meeting platform.
Outline appropriate communication methods to use – for instance, will personal texting be permitted for business correspondence?
If you have instituted a project management tool, define in your policies what communication should go through the tool.
It should go without saying that you should include in your communications policy a standard of decency – no bullying or foul language – and consequences that could arise in breaking this or any other policy. But don’t leave it open to interpretation; define your terms.
Availability – One employee may want to work late at night and another early in the morning; one employee may work the same amount every day, while another does most of the assigned work on certain days. As long as they get their work done in a timely and accurate matter and are available for meetings when needed, give them that freedom.
We recommend you set clear expectations for availability to reach your staff. For those employees who may have a less traditional schedule, you may still expect them to be available and contactable during traditional business hours.
Results – Productivity and output should be fairly obvious, especially if you use a project management tool. Set and communicate policies regarding your general expectations, the location of project-specific expectations, and the consequences of missed deadlines or subpar quality.
By implementing technology that helps you keep in touch with clients and staff, establishing clear company policies for remote work, keeping in touch with your team frequently, and building and maintaining a sense of camaraderie, your firm should not only survive but thrive in a post-COVID business world.