How Communications Agency Adjusts To Remote Working

A picture of remote or virtual working often goes hand in hand with technology, and most of the conversations I’ve had over the past few years were focused on which apps, tools, programmes and platforms were best to deploy for virtual teams. Although technology is absolutely key, going virtual is far more than just that.

As a virtual PR and Communications agency, remote working is part of our DNA. We purposely set ourselves up as a virtual business 12 years ago to bring together an all-senior team of international communications professionals with expert skillsets to service our clients.

The internet has infinite articles on the benefits of flexible and remote working, the best tools and technology to use and the productivity hacks and pitfalls to look out for. What I would like to share is a key lesson we’ve learned over the past decade – through lots of trial and error – that may help you navigate a remote working environment.

For us, the key to successful remote working is flexibility with accountability. Flexibility on all fronts; from the hours we work and the type of work we can do to the way we communicate and collaborate with each other. For employers, the biggest hesitation about flexibility is fear; for lack of control, productivity drops, a slipping company culture and substandard quality work. Rather than introducing rigid rules to retain control or trying to maintain the same structure and work practices as a brick and mortar office, focus on creating accountability.

Here are four things you can do to today to instill a strong culture of accountability in your team of remote team members:

1) Set crystal clear expectations

It’s super important to create strong line-of-sight to the company vision and business goals so people know how their own work contributes and connects to the organszation’s priorities. Make sure to set clear guidelines for performance, deadlines and outcomes, not for the number of hours that need to be worked. Research shows that remote workers are often more productive and able to fulfil regular tasks in less time than they would in a traditional office environment. It’s a shift in mindset to pay for performance, not hours.

“Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result” – Bob Protor

2) Enable self-organization

Ask employees to develop their own schedules and objectives on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to plan their workdays as efficiently and effectively as possible to deliver on the expectations set, and hold them accountable for the delivery of their own plans. Through clear line-of-sight you can empower your teams to align their individual tasks and projects to focus their efforts towards the achievement of the business objectives and priorities. Communicate regularly through agreed meeting rhythms and check in often to see how the team is getting on.

“Accountability breeds responseability” – Stephen Covey

3) Foster the sense of belonging

Reinforce your company culture and core values through frequent communication and virtual team activities and try to retain some of the informal and social aspects of work, even though you’re not physically together. This can be as easy as hosting a daily 15-minute google hangout coffee break for example. Being alone but feeling together will energise teams and provide a strong sense of belonging. The human factor in a virtual environment is so important.

Great companies have high cultures of accountability” – Steve Ballmer

4) Facilitate not mandate

Communicate often, give (even more) feedback, foster best-practice sharing across teams and continue to celebrate results. In doing so, make sure you provide the tools, information and support that’s needed to facilitate seamless work from home. Various platforms, such as Google’s G Suite or Microsoft Teams, are designed to easily bring communication, collaboration, file sharing and application management together in a single place, accessible to all.

Make sure to share important news and updates daily so everyone is on the same page and provide access to online training resources so your teams continue to sharpen their skills. Lastly, make sure there’s ample tech and HR support as people go through this transition.

“Freedom is not the same as lack of accountability” – Kevin Powers

By Anne Bleeker, Managing Director

Communications Agency Adjusts To Remote Working
How Communications Agency Adjusts To Remote Working

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