Let's put our heads together

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Let's put our heads together

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Setting up your remote team

Current health concerns have forced the hands of many organisations to move swiftly towards remote team-working. TQ was set up as a virtual business 12 years ago. We haven’t always got it right, and we are still learning, but if you are responsible for a newly remote team, these insights might be helpful for you.

Remote and virtual teams are suddenly in focus.

Saving on commuting time. Blending work and life. Reduced overheads. Environment and health impact. There are clear benefits for both the individual and the employer. To date though, culture, trust and (to an extent) technology have been touted as reasons to resist the change – how do I sustain motivation, how can I build a sense of team spirit, how do I know they are actually ‘working’??

For TQ, the focus has always been connectivity, communication, training, performance, safety and well-being. So here is my list of key priorities as you plan your team or organisational shift to remote working.

Team make-up

Don’t be fooled. To really drive performance longer term, this isn’t about swapping face to face for video calls. True remote working requires a whole new mindset and suite of skills and behaviours. In our experience, we have seen an increase in the required amount of:

  • Structure and planned activity
  • Communication (less, more frequently)
  • The desire for employees to have ‘quality time’ with managers and team members

There are some big implications in here, so take time to think about team size, manager responsibilities and the team dynamics. Going ‘remote’ heightens the importance of areas that can avoid detection in the ‘real’ world like management style or communication capabilities.

Set realistic expectations

You need to be clear on what you expect of your remote workforce. When you are interviewing, be open about what it’s like to work remotely, the pros and cons and how your company specifically handles it – your EVP and values should be foundational here. Whilst remote working is not all plain sailing, the challenges you face into can really differentiate your experience for the better. How can you help your team:

  • Combat loneliness or avoid cabin fever
  • Nurture and sustain the right mindset
  • Use their saved commuting time for personal development or building additional capability

Hire for attribute fit

Like everyone, you likely hope to attract self-sufficient ‘drivers’ who can manage their work efficiently.  But you will only know if people have these attributes if you assess for them. As part of TQ’s process, we use tools such as PI (Predictive Index Behavioural Assessment) to understand how to make the most of our talent’s potential and make sure they will flourish in our environment.

Onboard as you mean to continue

Do not skimp on giving a good experience to your new hire. It is even more important to give your remote workforce effective onboarding experiences. If they are not attending an office for induction, then how will you do it? At TQ, we use an onboarding tool to help us set up the new hire up with knowledge, policies and procedures. We also have a buddy program to help our new consultants integrate into their new way of working. In addition to this, TQ provides an induction conducted through video conferencing. You don’t need to invest $$$, we use Zoom.

Face to face (when safe to do so!)

As our team may have not met each other face to face when they first started, we (used to) make sure we have social gatherings, dinners and family BBQ’s. We want our team to live our values and be comfortable to bring their same authentic self to the boss’s house for a BBQ or to a client meeting. At the time of writing, we’ll be swapping these for fun online events, but when normal service returns, so will our determination to bring people together.

Stay connected virtually

Having the right communication channels set up in a virtual team is imperative. One of the most important for a virtual team is how you communicate internally to build comradery. At TQ, we use Workplace for company updates, through to things like ‘day in the life’ videos of our consultants. There’s even a page for their pets, what they are up to on holiday or common interest groups. This has been a fantastic way to introduce the team to each other when they might have never met each other face to face. Regular campaigns, like pet pics or favourite exercise regimes are all fun ways to energise the communications, be authentic and break down barriers.

Ultimately, if they don’t engage, team members won’t take note of new communications, work effectively with the tools you give them, assimilate with their remote colleagues or perform well. The tactics you employ need to suit your team so make sure you have a plan and be prepared to pivot if you need to.

Project tools

Let’s be honest, Excel won’t get you very far. There are lots of free/cost effective tools like Google Docs that enable better collaboration and having bad tools is like driving with the handbrake on. Before you jump in, run a simple needs analysis exercise so that you focus in on the features your team really need to operate properly. For bigger decisions, quick pilots have worked well for us, as well as allowing super users to self-nominate and up-skill others. For project-based collaboration, we have used used Slack, Trello and Teams but there are a whole host of others out there.

Individual needs

Think about personalisation – do all your team need the same accesses and tools? Depending on which area you work in at TQ, you will be set up with the right tools and we customise the experience. We have learnt that giving everyone access to everything can be overwhelming and bad habits start creeping in. So, when you do your team ‘needs analysis’, take it right down to an individual level.

Management tools

Do you use a resource management tool? For an organisation like TQ, it is essential that we have somewhere to capture, resource availability, capability, capacity, work preferences and current deployments. There are some cost-effective tools out there that can reduce a lot of wasted time and increase efficiencies.

In addition to this, having a smart HRIS is important. We use it to manage our whole workforce, which means contractors, casuals and permanent consultants. The majority of our workforce is contingent / highly skilled gig workers who still need to have access to policy information and important documents such as contracts.

Policies and governance

Make sure your HR policies and procedures are aligned to how you work. We recently refreshed our policies to make sure they were up to date and made sense for a virtual team (e.g. implementing a home office checklist for OH&S). All are housed on our central, cloud based HRIS for all team members to access.

 

We are not underestimating the challenges of moving to a remote set up. There are important considerations for team dynamics, technology, communication, engagement, mental health and more. However, the implications and opportunities for positive outcomes are there for the taking, so we hope this article has given some food for thought.

I am always happy to share stories and swap ideas and we are always keen to keep improving so feel free to reach out to me, Ainsley Bainger.

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TQSolutions (TQ) is regarded as Australia’s leading Advisory and Solutions firm for Talent Acquisition, Recruitment and Careers related projects – this is the world of organisational Joiners, Movers and Leavers. We do this through:

Advise
Partnering with organisations about to embark upon significant change or transformation programmes. Our advisory services cover areas such as independent technology, capability and operating model reviews, deep market intelligence, employer brand and candidate experience.
Deploy
Our scalable, on-demand model delivers exceptional results for our clients. With a national team of experts, all with at least 15 years’ experience, we deploy brilliant people on an ongoing basis or to support key projects and spikes in activity.
Inform
We curate insights, provide thought leadership, community and training – all geared to help you cut through the noise with the informed perspective you need to make smart decisions.

www.tqsolutions.com.au

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