By Isaac Kohen, VP of R&D at Teramind
By now, we know that managing remote, distributed teams isn't a unique feature for specific companies. It's the de-facto way in which many companies are conducting business in today's environment.
Even as the Covid-19 pandemic transitions from response to recovery, it's clear that in-person "business as usual" will not return anytime soon. What's more, it's evident that the businesses positioned to thrive both now and in the future will be defined, at least in part, by their ability to deploy and manage remote teams.
We have emerged from these uncertain times with a radically reimagined workforce that uniquely values a comprehensive work-from-home strategy. Here are four steps to manage this transition effectively.
1. Prioritize communication.
While the allure of working in pajamas and eliminating an arduous commute makes remote work attractive for many people, it turns out that the connection and collaboration afforded by an in-office experience is also vital to a thriving workforce.
As The Atlantic pointedly explains, "Almost everything that doesn't feel like work at the office is what makes the most creative, most productive work at the office possible." Unfortunately, Zoom calls and other videoconferencing services are poor substitutes for these things. New phrases like "Zoom fatigue" have entered our lexicon, and they are real.
Rather than inundating employees with an endless schedule of meetings that drain their energy and eviscerate productivity, prioritize strategic and intentional communication that meets employees' needs, fosters collaboration and generally provides the connectivity that employees need to thrive.
2. Set clear standards.
For the unfamiliar, remote work comes with many caveats that complicate the experience. Notably, without the structure and routine of the in-office environment, employees are prone to extremes. Either they struggle to remain productive, or they overwork, embracing an extreme version of the always-on mentality that plagues so many workers.
Effective leaders will set clear expectations for their employees, ensuring that flexibility and productivity are perfectly balanced.
3. Account for cybersecurity.
While much attention has been given to the threat of Zoom bombing and other novel and newsworthy threats, the reality is that remote and distributed teams face a unique and comprehensive threat landscape that could compromise personal and company data. This includes:
- Insider threats: Employees have always posed a significant cybercriminal threat. Many data breaches are the result of accidental or malicious insiders who compromise company data.
- Phishing scams: In the weeks and months since the pandemic, the number of phishing messages has increased by 667 percent, as reported by Infosecurity Magazine. This trend won't abate with the crisis. Isolated remote workers are especially vulnerable to this threat, which is easy to deploy and uniquely damaging to data security.
- Hardware vulnerabilities: When rapidly deploying a remote workforce in response to Covid-19, more than 50,000 organizations sent employees home with compromised devices, as reported by DarkReading. Now that the urgency of the moment has subsided, it's time to ensure that employees are working with secure hardware.
4. Stay agile.
The repercussions of Covid-19 ensure that agility isn't just a buzzword anymore. It's the key to managing a successful business both now and in the uniquely challenging environment ahead.
To stay ahead of the curve, harness your monitoring capabilities to assess the efficacy of your remote work approach. Discard any ineffective strategies, and prioritize those that are making the most impact.
Moving forward, the most efficient companies are going to be able to mobilize their teams from anywhere, something that comes with inherent benefits for organizations that can excel at this approach today.
Not only does an effective remote work strategy appeal to a growing ethos among workers, but it allows companies to recruit talent from everywhere because people are better at working in distributed teams. The benefits can be multitudinous, but, before they can be realized, leaders need to become excellent at managing a remote workforce.