Remote working solutions have become table stakes for companies to ensure business resilience, enable remote employees and sustain workforce productivity.
But when it comes to turning remote employees into high-performing teams, technology can oftentimes be the easy part. Employees at all levels of the organization — from executives to managers or frontline workers — must learn how to work collaboratively in a virtual setting.
As companies embrace a more remote workforce — regardless of global circumstances — it can be easy to overlook the fact that not every employee is dealing with the same type of remote work environment. In fact, each employee’s situation is unique.
Like organizations around the world, one of the largest banks in the U.S. was challenged with providing its employees the right training and support as the COVID-19 pandemic nearly overnight forced the Bank to move most of its workforce home.
As the Bank was making the decision to send its employees home, World Wide Technology (WWT) was helping the Bank quickly develop and implement technical solutions that would enable employees to do their jobs from the safety of their homes — equipping the Bank with the right tools for its newly remote workforce.
But the Bank quickly recognized the right tools were only part of the solution needed to maintain business continuity. As the Bank’s employees were learning to use new technology platforms to work and communicate, loan requests were spiking due to the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
In short, the Bank’s commercial loan officers were busier than ever while working in a completely new and different work setting — from both a technical and social perspective.
The way in which WWT was able to help was a little unusual.
In addition to WWT being a longtime partner of the Bank, one of WWT’s agile program managers is married to a commercial loan officer at the Bank. Our agile program manager, who was also working remotely, knew her spouse was struggling with the adjustment to his new at-home work environment.
As the couple worked from home together, she showed him how applying modern workflow and remote collaboration principles could help him organize his work and better collaborate with colleagues.
The tips proved so effective, the loan officer’s managers took notice — he had quickly become the most productive member of his team by far — and asked how his success could be replicated across the entire team.
After connecting the dots, the Bank’s commercial loan officers and team leaders met with WWT for an initial ideation session to discuss challenges and determine specific areas needed addressing.
WWT created a pilot workshop to teach remote collaboration, organizational techniques and effective remote social interactions. The workshop — designed for all employees who want to improve their collaboration with others, especially teammates — was delivered to the team remotely in two two-hour sessions.
Following the workshop, the commercial loan officers and broader team were immediately able to implement what they learned. By the second workshop, the loan officers were already more comfortable — and more effective — participating in virtual meetings.
The loan officers are now able to:
- Work with their teammates more efficiently while being highly collaborative and productive as a remote team.
- Better familiarize themselves with the tools and technology needed to be a high-performing team.
- Solve real-world problems that inevitably arise in a remote working environment.
“Before the remote workshops, working as a ‘team’ was challenging and hard to maneuver,” said one loan officer. “After working with WWT and understanding how we, as a team, can be efficient and collaborative while remote, our team has come together in ways that we did not know was possible. We are all able to be more efficient and productive as a team, whether we are working remote or face to face."
Changing from a normal, everyday office environment to being a remote team member in a virtual office can be daunting, but also very exciting. After some minor adjustments and a little coaching, the skills learned from WWT’s experience — not only working remotely ourselves, but helping many of the world’s largest organizations unlock trapped potential from their own remote teams — set the Bank up to be as productive, if not more, with a remote workforce.