The rise of remote work has already been well documented over these past two decades, with remote work in the United States alone growing by 91% in the last 10 years alone. And with the recent global pandemic that we’re currently experiencing, the numbers are expected to soar into the foreseeable future. ‘Business as usual’ is fundamentally changing for many companies as they mobilize to function as effectively remotely as they have in the past.
The benefits of working remotely are vast. In a Crain’s survey last year, nearly 80% of survey respondents cited flexible schedules and remote work as the most effective non-monetary ways to retain employees. Remote work is also great for business, as another survey showed that 85% of businesses confirmed productivity increase as a result of greater employee flexibility. Remote workers have also reported taking fewer sick days and making more money annually. Furthermore, remote work is environmentally friendly and can massively reduce our carbon footprint on a global scale in a short amount of time.
As many organizations quickly transition their employees to work from home, they are being stress-tested in real-time. Companies are making major changes to the tools and software they use to empower their workforce to collaborate and perform necessary tasks remotely. Corporate culture will be tested, as well as trust and transparency between leadership and their respective employee base.
Recently, I had a chance to interview Ken Misuma, the CMO of QURAS, about his views on remote work best practices, collaboration, and leading remote teams. QURAS is a next-generation blockchain platform that enables anonymous, privacy-protected transactions and runs a decentralized organization with team members in over 8 countries.
Ken, as you know, now is a critical time for leaders to take decisive actions in their businesses to ensure they will persevere through current economic conditions and prosper in the long-term.
For organizations that need to select new team members to lead operations and processes during this time of transition to remote work, how should one go about selecting these new team leaders?
Leading a remote team is not an easy task, especially for those that do not have previous experience of it. For some, it can be more difficult to lead a remote team than leading a team at a centralized office, but each has its own set of pros and cons. In selecting new leaders during this transition to remote work, you have to look at team members that have exceptional management and communication skills that will keep the remote team motivated and productive. You also want to look to those that have a strong understanding of your business culture since that will shine through in communication with the remote team. These newly appointed leaders also need to have the trust and respect of their team, so that needs to be considered as well.
What’s the best way to ensure that your remote team is producing at maximum productivity?
I strongly think that setting the right strategy for the organization, to begin with, is important in any field of work. To maximize productivity, setting key performance indicators (KPIs) focused on both the short-term and long-term works well. For accountability purposes, you need to schedule time intervals to look back and determine if the KPI is on track or behind. Setting milestones is usually good practice to understand the running pace of any overall project. If a KPI is set efficiently, then it’s easy to look back to know what went wrong and why, which helps when iterating your business processes for continuous improvement.
What are the best collaboration platforms to use?
I guess it depends on what a person’s exact role and tasks are in the organization. As for team communication tools, Slack and Zoom work well for communication and quick document sharing. Having a standard document depository like Google Drive or Box is also useful for document collaboration, and tools like Basecamp are useful for project management. Engineers often use GitHub for software development since it has a lot of collaboration features. I think there are a lot of tools and platforms that are useful, it just depends on the size of the team and the work to determine which is most suitable for your operating divisions, from marketing and sales to IT and customer service.
Which tasks simply can’t be effectively assigned to a remote IT team?
I think pretty much all IT work can be done effectively done remotely as long as tasks are organized, communicated and managed efficiently. The IT team needs to have the right tools, like collaboration software, to make sure the team is productive, both individually and as a group. However, security needs to be handled carefully and things need to be done and kept in a secure environment. Security needs to be a top priority for work-related devices. Of course, determining the right levels of data access to each IT person will be also important to hedge security risks.
How can work be coordinated between separate yet related teams?
Working across separate yet related teams is not easy, but with the right set of shared goals and team structure, it can be done effectively. Another important aspect of coordinating between separate teams is that each team must pay respect to the other and communicate very well. Of course, an understanding of individual and collective KPIs are important, but working as a “team” and trusting one another is most important to creating a productive working environment.