Career Woman

Preparing your team for the future of remote work


For a minority, working remotely pre-coronavirus was the norm: working from home, a trendy co-working space, a local library, or even in a favourite coffee shop. The enforced shift of working patterns since the implementation of social distancing and lockdowns around the world won’t have been too severe for these nomad workers. However, for the majority used to commuting to and working in bustling office environments, the changes of the last few months have been nothing short of seismic.

Organisations have had to adapt like never before. Some will have managed the transition smoothly whilst others will still be getting to grips with changes in communications and the lack of co-working rituals that make a company a culture. There is opportunity in adversity and those who focus on the positive and adapt with open minds will be the ones to thrive in the post-covid landscape. This article sets out some simple ways for building strong foundations for the future of remote work.

Back to basics

With the huge financial impact of the pandemic, many organisations have had to drastically restructure in their attempts to survive. Whilst governments have stepped in to varying degrees around the world, there are few who won’t need to make some serious changes going forward if they haven’t already. For most, this means standing back and working out what the core values and principles of their organisations are. This process will drive key decisions regarding potential redundancies and long-term strategies.

Despite the challenges and difficult questions it can pose, going back to basics should be seen as a positive step and an opportunity to redefine mission and impact for the new future ahead rather than the future we were anticipating and planning for before the world was brought to a standstill.

This process doesn’t have to – and shouldn’t – be done behind closed doors. Top-down hierarchical organisations may struggle to be open about fundamental decisions, but it is likely that those who embrace policies of transparency, or even radical transparency, will find more creative and innovative solutions.


A remote workforce made up of individuals used to being together requires careful management and clear communication. Without contact and guidance, teams can become dislocated and disengaged from the crucial work at hand.

A key starting point in any digital communication strategy should be clear differentiation between the types of tools used for each form of interaction. Most organisations will be using a combination of email, instant messaging (via MS Teams, Slack etc.), video conferencing (via Zoom, MS Teams, Skype etc.) and good old fashioned audio only phone calls. Instant messaging tools are crucial as replacements for those unplanned interactions in the office; bumping into a colleague in the kitchen or in the bathroom. These impromptu mini-meetings often spark ideas or remind people of something important.

Video conferencing has become the dominant form of communication for teams but shouldn’t totally replace the phone call. Try keeping things varied to avoid the dreaded ‘zoom fatigue’ by only using video calls for meetings and other conversations that you would normally only have face-to-face. Making sure your workforce is technically equipped to use these tools is of course vital and proficiency on all software should never be assumed.

Take your virtual communications to the next level by using extras such as zoom virtual backgrounds or breakout rooms to keep your remote teams engaged and staying positive.


The spontaneity that is possible in physical meetings is a casualty of going virtual. In general, more thorough planning and meeting design will be required for virtual meetings. However, this can also be seen as a positive process and part of the ‘back to basics’ approach outlined above. Sharing round responsibilities such as chair, minute-taker, or mediator can be a great and easy way to keep everybody engaged and bring their best to the virtual table. Virtual meetings should be kept as short as possible and, if done well, can lead to increased productivity rather than slowing things down.

Looking forward

Surviving the short term is the main task for many organisations around the world. Those with the luxury of looking further ahead should be doing so with ambition and innovation and the forefront of planning strategy. It is clearly the case that open-minded and bold organisations will be the ones to survive the crisis and thrive in the future. Now is the time to be building new foundations with remote working at the heart of any sustainable business strategy.

About Susan Melony'

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