- March 23, 2020
- in Future of Work
- by David Donatelli
Tools to Manage Remote Employees: Q&A with David Donatelli
With the pace of work and life changing each day in the face of COVID-19, businesses have no choice but to adapt to the realities of their employees working from home using remote collaboration software to maintain business continuity. We are currently living in a time where flexibility, transparency and leadership are paramount to keeping business strategy moving forward.
As Senior Vice President of Global Support at Fuze, it is my team’s responsibility to be a driving force behind sustaining these three key pillars of success. My team works across the globe in countries including the U.S., U.K., Portugal and Australia. While remote and distributed work is our norm, it’s important in current times to understand that many workers are facing a makeshift kitchen-turned-office with little notice and without choice. That’s why it’s also critical that they have the remote collaboration software—like Fuze—that allows them to do their best work and gives me the tools to manage remote employees effectively.
To scale remote employees as quickly and seamlessly as possible, managers should focus on three key imperatives to support the most important aspect of any business: its workforce.
1. Flexibility Creates a Productive Space
Over many years of managing remote teams, I have learned that flexibility often kickstarts the ease to working in a new environment. When considering quick adaptation, a flexible approach can reduce the stress of rigid schedules and strict working hours, especially when remote workers are grappling with a new routine both professionally and personally. At Fuze, we rely on the ease of flexibility that comes with remote collaboration tools for businesses and unified communications. Whether it's using a work chat program to communicate or setting up video meetings, these online collaboration tools help us remain connected when and where we prefer. Yet, I believe that flexibility in a newly adapted remote working environment can go even a step further.
Regular all-hands meetings are vital to supporting a team and its productivity while physically apart. With a team over 100 people in different time zones, it can be challenging to align all our calendars. To accommodate this, we often operate two video calls on meeting days that allow for time zone and working preference flexibility. This flexibility enables individual team members to feel more comfortable and in control of their own schedules when their realities are rapidly changing.
Over 100 team members across the globe virtually connected for an all-hands meeting.
2. Crystal-Clear Transparency Sets the Tone
Organizational transparency is critical to keeping your remote workforce informed and engaged. But when your operations become fully remote, transparency becomes a necessity. Creating an open, communicative virtual work environment ensures that employees feel connected to an otherwise disconnected space. Each project manager or company leader should be transparent with their teams on all fronts, from company announcements within the business' remote workforce management software to weekly phone calls. Encouraging transparency in every conversation—whether it's about major company news or a small team update—helps newly remote teams continue to feel in the loop.
On my team, we value full transparency to streamline communications and encourage a two-way channel of feedback. Most importantly, I ensure that my team feels comfortable in sharing questions and offering responses. This allows each worker to have the right information at the right time and eliminates the opportunity for misinformation to spread or for anyone to feel left out of the conversation. Openly sharing that your chat, calling and video are open to all employees whenever they want to connect makes transparency easy and sets a positive tone for optimal team collaboration.
3. Strong Leadership Builds Stronger Teams
In times like these, managers must work even harder when maintaining operations and managing remote workers. Toolkit options like work chat programs and note-taking apps can help tremendously, but the most important way to keep your employees productive and happy is through solid leadership. Set well-defined and realistic goals, keeping teams on track from the very beginning of any project. Managers must work closely to build support where needed and make sure that their teams find purpose in their work. When people feel like they have a voice, they will be more willing to do whatever is needed to get things done.
Throughout my time at Fuze, our customer base grew at a dramatic rate in which we had to work at a high speed to build a foundation for success. The unique part about it? None of us work in the same location for daily huddles and strategy meetings. Because of this, it was more important than ever to practice strong leadership and utilize an excellent remote work monitoring software for this large team to work cohesively at home. From the moment we mobilized, each team member knew their role in the initiative and how we were going to achieve our goals as a unit. This type of cross-functional, adaptive communication is imperative to strong team operations, and it starts with leadership. Agility was built into the expectations of our company culture from the start, enabling us to take on any rapid change in strategy.
When teams are faced with new challenges, understanding that it is a process can help managers find solace in the chaos. The size, scale or location of a team become mere descriptors when flexibility, transparency and strong leadership are prioritized. Through my experience as a remote worker and team manager using remote collaboration software like Fuze, I know that change may be intimidating, but it can never stifle a cohesive, connected team.
To learn how to effectively work from home, check out our Ultimate Guide to Remote Work: