One of the many consequences of the lockdown and social distancing around the world has been the sudden growth in mass remote-working. Dubbed ‘the greatest homeworking experiment in history’, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity for businesses.
The key challenge is the sheer speed at which it happened. Almost overnight entire teams were thrown into a completely unfamiliar way of working for many. There were no trial runs or phased approaches. Even those who felt like old-hands at remote-working are getting a whole new perspective on things now that it’s ubiquitous.
Take my role for example. My team conducts coordinated outreach to generate opportunities for the sales team, mostly via phone and social media, across three different locations in the UK and Europe. On the face of it, this type of work seems tailor-made for a remote workforce, and I assumed that moving to a fully-remote model would free up more time to focus on process reports and call-listening.
And yet, what has actually taken up most of my time is making sure the team is supported. Atmosphere and culture are built over time within organizations and create a sense of shared purpose and momentum, driving people onwards. It’s easy to take this for granted when everyone is together and it’s working, but when everyone is in a different place, there is a need to take stock, and to better understand how it works.
There are some people, for instance, that are entirely self-motivated and who are unlikely to need feedback and energy from others to succeed. These people are great, but you can’t hire an entire team of them as the dynamic simply won’t work. By understanding the differences in motivation and work styles, you can determine where support is needed and how to allocate resources.
For us, this has also provided the chance to identify process improvements. The team has a catch up every morning which helps maintain structure. This, combined with more team calls, has helped maintain mental wellness. Having this structure in place, enabled by technology such as the Vonage Contact Center, which allows us to monitor and support the team, has been crucial to our transition success.
Feedback from the team has actually been really positive. We are all learning to find the opportunities. Unsurprisingly we’ve seen a surge in demand for cloud-based unified communications technology as people scramble to get it set up. But we’ve also noticed other things. The team has reported greater levels of conversations with prospects, who are easier to get hold of, and perhaps, even more willing to actually speak with another human being.
Remote work will certainly become more prevalent as a result of this pandemic. Technology will remain a key driver of that. If this situation has taught me anything, it’s that understanding and maintaining team culture is at the heart of any healthy business, just as it always has been.