It might be hard to imagine now, but a year ago many employees had no experience working from home. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations had workforces primarily accustomed to working in office and other professional settings on a regular basis.

Since remote work is not common in most construction sites or offices, the information technology (IT) training department at McCarthy Building Companies partnered with human resources (HR) to create webinars and tools to support our partners as we adjusted to this alternative way of working. Below are some recommendations from the series:

Working Remotely – As an Individual 

When working remotely, employees must be deliberate in staying connected with managers and teammates. By taking advantage of communication tools, employees can reach out to colleagues for ideas and feedback as they would in the office. You should also encourage individuals to take breaks from work to casually catch up with co-workers.

The IT training department also recommended using video tools when appropriate in online meetings and interactions. This helps employees interact and communicate more transparently and authentically, because they’re able to read facial expressions and other non-verbal cues. Moreover, video chats are often much quicker and efficient than an email or instant message.

Working Remotely – As a Manager 

In the remote environment, leaders must manage results, not processes. The IT training department identified which collaboration and communication tools employees can use to establish consistent one-on-one and group check-ins with managers. Managers also setup “open room” meeting times in online platforms for their employees to jump in for quick questions and guidance. If an employee joins, the manager closes the meeting room to indicate it is occupied.

The IT training department also helped managers use online tools to help track employees’ tasks and progress. With this tool, managers can create tasks and organize them into three categories: do, doing and done. Both managers and employees can review tasks at any time and meet to reprioritize or reallocate.

Working Remotely – As a Team 

On a remote team, it is important to make sure everyone is heard and participating. Don’t let anyone fall through the cracks, and be patient as teammates adjust. To avoid this, start each meeting with a check-in – asking each member to take a couple minutes to discuss what they are doing, what is going well and what is challenging. The IT training department also identified tools within our online meeting platforms to make meetings more engaging and interactive – such as polling, chats, breakout rooms and virtual backgrounds.

You can also ensure all team members are heard by carving out time for team building and casual communication. Maintaining personal working relationships and checking in on teammates regularly is critical to long-term success. IT training provided quick guides on using internal social media platforms to encourage team cohesion and sharing. Our organization also began to host virtual happy hours and lunch and learns to provide skills training and development.

Working Remotely – Successfully

The sudden shift to remote work required us to learn new online tools to help individuals, managers and teams in the remote environment. To avoid redundancies, IT training departments should identify and track which online learning tools and features are at the organization’s disposal. By reducing redundancies and establishing strong strategic alignment between your business’s and employees’ needs, your IT Training department can successfully assist and support your remote workforce.