How to Improve Collaboration in a Hybrid Remote Work Environment

There is no way to deny it: the entire concept of work has changed significantly over the past year and a half. The pandemic has made us realize that working from home doesn’t threaten work productivity, and most workers prefer the option to work remotely at least a few times a week. In fact, many employees have decided to quit rather than come back to the office at all, and a recent study by Robert Half found that only 25% of workers in the U.S. would prefer a total return to the office. 

It’s become clear that a hybrid remote work environment is here to stay.  While employees may not interact in person as much, they still must understand what’s expected, and stay on the same page with other team members.  

It’s challenging to ensure that your team is productive when there is less daily face to face interaction and communication. How can you ensure that your team is still performing at a high level, even with a hybrid remote work environment?  

Host Daily Huddles

Working from home can make employees feel lonely and like they aren’t part of the team. This is not an ideal work environment, and it can negatively affect team members’ overall physical and mental health. Daily huddles are a great way to change that. 

Believe it or not, a five to 15-minute daily huddle can help team members feel more connected and aligned. It’s also the perfect opportunity to share good news, any recent challenges, and help you clarify expectations. It can also be an early morning “energy booster” that can help set the tone for the workday. 

Daily huddles can help employees feel more comfortable communicating with each other, which will make them feel more aligned with organizational goals. Your employees want to feel like they are making a contribution to something bigger than themselves. A daily time huddle is a perfect time for them to speak about what they’re working on and celebrate any recent wins so that they can be acknowledged and celebrated.  

A simple agenda for a daily huddle might be:  

  1. Biggest win from yesterday 
  1. Most important thing you’re working on today 
  1. Any stuck points 

Don’t dive into issues – pair people off who can help each other solve the issues together. The huddle should be fast-paced and high-energy so don’t get into the weeds.  

Implement Virtual Team Building Activities 

You may not think much of a “virtual happy hour,” but it can offer more benefits than you may have realized. Hosting social events like these helps colleagues feel connected while working from home. A virtual “trivia game” night can also be a fun and relaxing way to connect with employees without thinking about work-related obligations.  

One of the easiest ways to build as a team is to create channels for any mutual hobbies or interests. If your employees all enjoy reading books, for example, your organization can create a Teams channel to share book recommendations or discuss the books you recently read.  

Understandably, there has been an increase in virtual team building because of COVID-19, but the results are quite staggering. Specifically, organizations worldwide are investing 2500% more when it comes to virtual team-building.  

You don’t have to be 100% virtual. Consider leveraging in-person events strategically. If you have staff in other parts of the country, bringing people together can be challenging and expensive. That said, bringing team members together for quarterly or annual planning meetings which incorporate some social fun, can be very high value by helping team members to get to know one another better, create stronger human connections, strengthen relationships, and break the monotony of the virtual meetings.

Roll Out a Talent Management Tool 

Talent management tools are great because they allow employees to truly see their progress, understand expectations, and stay on the same page regarding projects and workflows. Your employees will better understand daily or weekly goals, and track their progress for more transparency across the entire firm. 

Lattice is a team engagement and talent management tool that can help your team stay on track and exceed expectations. It allows employees to monitor both short-term and long-term goals, create dynamic dashboards that offer organizational insight, AND offer surveys to learn more about employee satisfaction and bandwidth. This one tool offers an organization several ways to remain productive, accountable, and even encourage career advancement opportunities.  

Empower Your Team with the Right Apps to Collaborate Virtually

All sorts of platforms can help your CPA firm collaborate more effectively, whether you are using to customize workflows or Slack to discuss projects across multiple teams. Loom, a video messaging platform, can help your CPA firm create training videos easier or clarify tasks without having to resort to long-winded emails. The right tools can help employees “visualize” and manage their workload better, often leading to more productivity.  

Provide Remote Working Benefits

With less emphasis on a physical office, your team members’ home office is now their place to be productive every day. You can provide unique benefits to help your team members configure their home office for maximum productivity. 

A technology stipend can also help your employees feel more independent about making purchases that help them achieve their work goals. Even offering to pay for high-speed Internet can help your employees accomplish more while feeling better about their role and more competent. A dual-monitor setup, for example, is a small expense when you consider that it can lead to 20-30% more productivity. You can also help your team members purchase the right desk, chair, lights, and more to be as productive as possible.  

If you offer remote working benefits for your employees, then it could save a lot of time and money down the road. Your employees are more productive, and they are also more likely to stick around for the long haul. 

How to Get Started

Need help making sure your firm is equipped with the right technology for a hybrid remote work environment? Download our free Home Office Checklist to see where your firm stands with its remote work technology.