In a workforce gone remote, IT teams are facing mounting pressure. They’re not only tasked with maintaining a regular network, but also facing increased threats from hackers that could infiltrate the system through remote workers’ devices. What’s more, the global pandemic has sent many employees home to work, making it more critical than ever to maintain a sense of team unity and normalcy.
In response, CIOs should make IT productivity a priority to allow teams to fluidly evolve with the changing IT landscape, regardless of whether workers remain remote or come back to the office. Here are a few proactive steps to take:
1. Build Your Virtual Leadership Toolbox
Leading remotely builds itself on the same foundation as leading in the office: a shared vision for excellence. With this in mind, leaders can curate the tools they need to continue building and sharing this vision across a distributed workforce.
This might mean investing in new software or technology to accommodate remote face-time with employees, streamlining collaboration, or rewarding employees from afar for a job well done.
2. Continue to Set Expectations and Benchmarks
Though the location of the work performed may have changed, the purpose and nature of the work have not. Leaders should continue to hold their employees to their expectations by setting a positive example. You’re setting the tone for how they will view the importance of their “new” work. This means showing up to meetings on time, following through on emails and other communication, and helping them find answers to questions in a timely manner.
3. Be Optimistic for the Future
Change is happening, but consider it a good thing.
With restaurants, gyms, and public gatherings on hold and a growing number of businesses closing their doors, many employees may wonder if their jobs will be next. Now is the time when IT employees need to see that there’s still a purpose in everything they’re doing. Continue to talk about your vision for the future, where you see the company in one or five years, and how IT as a whole is on the cusp of a transformation.
4. Maintain the Human Element
The team environment is still critical to IT operations.
IT teams that are working remotely when they’re used to working among others may feel a sense of disconnect from the company, their coworkers, and their role’s importance. It’s essential to maintain some semblance of normalcy during the crisis so that employees don’t lose sight of their obligations and significance.
To keep workers engaged, great CIOs will prioritize the human element just as much as any task or activity that’s on the day’s schedule. This could mean sharing motivational messages, remote working tips, and general reminders to eat well and exercise. It could be completely off-subject, such as asking about a favorite food or having everyone share photos of their pets or workspace setups.
So much can go unnoticed or undervalued when teams are working remotely. The best leaders are those that can help team members feel like part of the team while instilling trust and confidence that they can get the job done as an individual. Offering praise and words of encouragement can go a long way to do both ― especially in difficult times like these when employees are likely to need them most.