The pandemic created a real shift in workplace norms, and although many of these changes were temporary, some are here to stay. People are redefining, through their pandemic experiences, what matters most to them in work: opting for hybrid or fully remote workplaces over traditional workplaces to improve how they interact with their families and their workplace comfort.
With such a drastic shift in how people are working, it's more important than ever to build a remote workflow and structure that is catered to ensuring continued workplace satisfaction, while empowering productivity in this new environment.
Consider the new tools you might need to support a remote workforce in your industry
You might need to invest in new software, licenses, or hardware (e.g., laptops, computers, monitors, etc.). Use this opportunity to allocate budget you would otherwise have to use on hosting these employees in-person to ensure that they can build a comfortable and productive working environment at home; for example, you might provide a stipend for a team member to put together their at-home office (for things such as a chair, a desk, etc.).
You'll need to think about how you'll manage communication and collaboration among team members. Remote workers do best when given clear expectations and deadlines, and a comprehensive way to easily stay in touch with one another. Whether that's via a more traditional communication software, like Slack or Skype, or virtual platforms like Gather, which allow somewhat of a re-creation of the positive elements of office culture such as casual communication or the ability to "drop by a co-worker's desk."
I personally use Gather as a virtual workplace for my remote teams in the games development space, and the natural flow of being able to just walk up to a co-worker's "desk" and chat with them while retaining the benefits of a remote workplace has been something my team have taken to really well. There's something just inherently human about being able to walk into a conference room, albeit virtually, for a meeting. And I'm not talking about the kind of overbearing "immersive" virtual workplace you might envision in a dystopian fashion. Gather is centered on 2-D visuals in a Pokémon-esque style. It's fun and functional.
Create a system for tracking progress and effectively measuring success
This will help you identify areas where your remote workflow could be improved in the long term. Task management tools like ClickUp, Monday, and Asana are great for ensuring your team are on task and working toward the overall goal, tracking teamwork patterns, and leveraging data to improve your remote workflow.
It's vital to keep an ongoing, overarching goal for your team and to ensure everyone knows what that goal is to ensure that team members don't lose sight of why they're at your organization while being remote.
Most important, don't forget to focus on culture
Remote work can be incredibly isolating, so it's important to find ways to keep your team connected and engaged with one another in a way that will inspire workplace happiness, encourage collaboration, and cross-pollinate ideas. Some ways you can work toward this in a remote team include:
Holding regular coffee chats or lunchtime catch-ups
Creating virtual spaces for people to naturally collaborate on projects (this could be an actual virtual office on a platform like Gather, or just an open channel in Slack)
Ensuring everyone has the opportunity to share their ideas and be heard, and feels involved in the team vision
As a part of my game development team's schedule, we have events such as an optional biweekly "Let's Play" session. We jump in a call and recommend games to one another, and play through them. It is a lot of fun and a great way for us to connect, and doubles as a really great market research exercise unintentionally.
I've found that my remote working structure has really led to an optimal level of productivity across my team. Everyone's satisfied with the workflow, and, most important, people are happy with the flexibility we're able to offer in our remote workplace and the quality of life that leads to. It's been an ideal situation for us as a team, and for our team members as individuals.
Building an effective remote workflow takes some time and care, but creating a workplace that works for everyone is worth it. By taking some of the steps above while designing your remote work experience, you can work toward a satisfying workplace that delivers productivity and leverages the benefits of remote working.