There is no shortage of challenges that Americans and American businesses have faced as the country has come to grips with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Business has tanked. Kids are going to school on their iPads, and new phrases have entered our vocabularies like “social distancing.” Remote work is now the new normal.

Perhaps one of the most interesting challenge – and one that has lent itself to a lot of social media humor – is the question of how to maintain a sense of teamwork and productivity when everyone from your office is working from home.

If you expect your team to be as productive as possible during this unusual time, using technology and mindful tactics to build and maintain a sense of teamwork while working virtually is an unexpected challenge, but one that can be conquered.

If you were to ask your IT staff about how tech support for remote employees is going, they might say something along the lines of, “Fantastic! Never better!” However, if you asked remote workers the same question, their response could be far less enthusiastic. However, It appears there is a discrepancy between IT staff and remote workers. This was among the findings of a report by IT solutions provider 1E entitled “2021: Assessing IT’s readiness for the year of flexible working,” which surveyed 150 IT workers and 150 IT managers in large U.S. organizations. The report strikingly found that, while 100% of IT managers said they believed their internal clients were satisfied with tech support, only 44% of remote employees agreed.

By now, over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become common practice. Some businesses may begin reopening their offices and facilities as employees get vaccinated and, one hopes, virus metrics fall to manageable levels. However, that doesn’t mean everyone will be heading back to a communal working environment.

Flexible work arrangements, which include the option to telecommute, are expected to remain a valued employment feature. Remote work is also generally less expensive for employers, so many will likely continue offering or mandating it after the pandemic fades. For business owners, this means that providing optimal IT support to remote employees will remain a mission-critical task. Failing to do so will likely hinder productivity, lower morale, and may lead to reduced employee retention and longer times to hire — all costly detriments to the bottom line.

Working Remote Tips 

In order to be the most productive in your “home office,” our IT Senior Manager, Ryan Bidlack discusses some helpful tactics that can ensure efficiency and productivity.

  1. Plan your setup. If you are trying to recreate your workspace in the office for efficiency, consider things such as multiple monitors or the need for a printer or a scanner.
  2. Consider security factors. If you are accessing client data remotely, you need to make sure your connection is secure. To accomplish this, update the firmware on your modem and create a password for your home’s wireless network that is complex and difficult to guess. We recommend using a pass phrase for your password.
  3. Ensure Bandwidth. If you need to utilize video conferencing, make sure you have adequate bandwidth. Zoom recommends 1.5MB; however you must take into consideration who else may be using your internet. For instance, if your spouse is watching Netflix and you have kids into online gaming, you may need additional bandwidth. You can check your internet speed at


Videoconferencing – If you haven’t invested in videoconferencing technology, do it now. It’s inexpensive and provides your employees with much needed face time during this stressful experience. Work isn’t just about getting the work done – it is also about collaborating with your team. Moreover, videoconference applications will allow your team to screen share documents as they collaborate. According to Harvard Business Review, here are some steps to have a productive virtual meeting:

  1. Use video – This helps to make everyone accountable while personalizing the conversation.
  2. Use an audio dial-in option – This will ensure productivity. Video conferencing relies on a strong internet connection which may not be available for everyone.
  3. Create an agenda – Stick to meeting basics and stay organized.
  4. Call on people – This will ensure participation while avoiding people talking over others. If there is a “raise a hand” feature, encourage it.
  5. Assign a facilitator – It is beneficial to assign one person to lead the discussion. This will keep the meeting on target and make sure all topics are covered.
    Providers include: Zoom, GoToMeeting, RingCentral, Amazon Chime, Microsoft Teams
  6. Gather feedback from the team- Conduct a quick survey to gather insights from your team regarding what is and isn’t working. 
  7. Invest in ongoing training for support staff. If you have IT staffers who, for years, provided mostly in-person desktop support to on-site employees, they might not serve remote workers as effectively. Having them take one or more training courses may trigger some “ah ha!” moments that improve their interactions and response times.

Chat – If anything has replaced the office water cooler in the 21st century, it’s chat applications, powerful utilities that enable people to message each other privately with a quick tap (faster than email) or communicate with a group in real time. Team chat applications can organize conversations into categories or “channels” and they often include video chat functions.
Providers include: Slack, Google Hangouts Chat, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex Teams, Zoho Cliq, RingCentral Glip

Project management – You may use project management software in the office, but when everyone is dispersed working virtually, strong project management technology is essential to help organize workflow, assign tasks, set deadlines, generate reminders, and more. You may find that with your team working virtually, more employees should be trained and empowered to update project management files. Besides keeping your work projects on track, a side benefit of project management software in the current environment is the visual reminder to your team members that they are, indeed, accomplishing something and “moving the dial” as they work from home.
Providers include: Asana, Trello, Smartsheet, Hive, Monday, Microsoft Teams, Slack

Social media –Social media is as good a tool as any to maintain esprit de corps during the COVID-19 crisis. Create groups that your employees can join to keep in touch with each other and post pictures or videos.
Providers include: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp

Mindful tactics

Things are different now. You can’t call an impromptu staff meeting and have everyone show up within five minutes. However, there are things you can do to keep the human touch alive with your team members and customers.

Maintain a public presence – If your company uses social media for marketing and client outreach, use it now to maintain a human face and remind customers that you are still in business. Maybe your customers have never met Cindy in Accounts Payable, but seeing a picture of Cindy at her home computer with her Dachshund on her lap will help them feel connected to her – and your company.

Dial up the communication – Regular check-in meetings by videoconference or even just email will help you and your team stay on track. Don’t rely on project management technology alone. A 10-minute Zoom call every morning can help everyone get their head into a professional mindset to jumpstart the day, as well as update the team on any change in priorities, new tasks or shifting deadlines. Don’t forget to report good news. Got a new order from a customer? This can be a shot in the arm for people who need good news right now.

Celebrate – Do you observe birthdays, anniversaries, and professional achievements in your company? Don’t forget to do it now that everyone is working from home.

Virtual happy hour – Perhaps the greatest promise of technology is to make the designated driver unnecessary. It’s 5 p.m. Get everyone on a video call with their beverage of choice and enjoy a virtual happy hour together from home!

We can help

The pandemic has been not only a tragic crisis but also a marked accelerator of the business trend toward remote work. We can help you evaluate your technology costs, measure productivity and determine whether upgrades are likely to be cost-effective.

We hope everyone remains healthy and productive as possible during this new virtual reality.

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