As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to grow, more and more construction companies are being affected.
Whether you have a few employees working from home or your whole office staff, your projects must continue.
However, as many have experienced, maintaining a high level of communication and collaboration for these projects is a growing challenge.
That’s why our team developed 5 tips to successfully manage a remote office staff, particularly for construction companies. If managing a remote office staff is a growing concern for you, it’s okay, you’re not alone. Below you’ll find our top recommendations to help you navigate these uncharted waters.
Top 5 Tips for Managing a Remote Office Staff
1. Create New Communication Channels
For many construction companies having remote employees is an entirely new experience. Building new communication channels for your team is important. If you don’t, you can experience a severe loss in communication and collaboration, both necessary when handling projects.
Implement a Chat Tool
To begin, we recommend you implement a chat system for your team. Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, and Discord are just a few options that help your team stay connected as if they were in the office.
In other words, it’s best used for quick questions and/or comments, similar to shouting over a cubicle wall. These tools give your team the ability to create groups, like a finance group, marketing group, leadership group, etc. That way each department can quickly communicate with each other without cluttering their email inbox.
Implement a Video Conference Tool
Next, your team will need a video conference tool. Skype, Join.me, GoToMeeting, and Google Hangouts give your team the ability to meet virtually. As long as your device has a camera, you’ll be given the opportunity to see each other.
These video conference calls are similar to an in-person meeting. Meaning you can see who is speaking, read facial expressions, and feel more connected than a traditional phone call. Additionally, it gives your team the opportunity to share their screen. This can be exceptionally useful if the team needs to review something together.
Implement a Construction CRM
Lastly, we recommend you implement a construction CRM. Now that your team isn’t collaborating in person, they’ll need to collaborate through a different channel. A construction CRM will give you the ability to share client and project information in one location.
In other words, all job specifications, customer details, project documents, labor requirements, photos, and emails can be stored in your construction CRM. Additionally, it’ll give you the ability to set up automated tasks and alerts when each task has been completed, keeping each team member in the loop. If you are looking for a construction CRM, you can find more information here.
2. Create New Meeting Schedules
Creating a new team meeting schedule is next. You likely already have a meeting schedule in place throughout the week. However, you’ll need to schedule more meetings throughout the week to account for impromptu office meetings.
As a manager, we recommend you speak with your team and ask them if they need more time to meet as a team and with you. If they do, even a fifteen-minute meeting at the beginning and the end of the day could be enough to keep everyone aligned and on the same page.
If you do schedule more meetings, be sure to create an agenda for these extra meetings. Have a clear plan for each meeting. If not, those fifteen-minute meetings can quickly grow in thirty-minutes or longer.
3. Communicate Consistently
It’s easy for fear and panic to spread throughout a company if employees are left in the dark. Create a communication schedule to notify employees, contacts, partners, and shareholders how the company is doing and company next steps.
It’s important to be as honest and consistent with your notifications as possible. Going dark in a time of crisis can make panic escalate quickly. Additionally, make sure to inform your employees, contacts, partners, and shareholders when they will hear from you again. This will help keep everyone aligned and on the same page.
4. Create an Open-Door Schedule
Throughout the workday, in-office employees have the ability to speak with you. This can be through a structured meeting or just stopping by your office space. Once everyone is working remotely, they can lose that ability to speak with you and ask questions. This can quickly create a disconnect between you and your team.
We recommend creating a virtual open-door policy. Throughout the week, explain to your team you’ll be waiting on a virtual conference call during designated times of the day. If someone needs to speak with you, they can join the virtual conference and speak with you. If not, you’ll continue with your workday.
5. Be Flexible & Communicate Results
All new distractions can form once an employee is working from home. Yes, they aren’t meeting in the break room anymore, but they now have family members, children, and/or pets that can interrupt their day.
With these new distractions, a whole new level of flexibility must be given to your employees. It’s now up to the managers to explain to each employee their weekly goals and objectives. That way, if there is a family crisis, they can deal with it and come back to work later that day. This gives your employees a new sense of responsibility and keeps them from calling you each time they need to step away from their computer.
As a manager, it’s common to feel uneasy with a remote workforce. You are now trusting them to work without supervision. However, by following these five recommendations for successfully managing a remote workforce, we are positive it’ll be easier.
If at any point you need help navigating your remote workforce, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at TopBuilder. We’ve been working with remote employees for over ten years. We’ll gladly help you and your team increase communication and collaboration.