With remote work extended through April for most of the U.S., it’s a great time to learn from people who have successfully been working virtually for years. I spoke with Tricia Sciortino, CEO of BELAY, who has been working virtually for 10 years at BELAY, to hear her tips for those of us who are new to this environment.
Why Not Remote?
BELAY was founded by Bryan & Shannon Miles on the idea that churches need part-time, fractional support, and that this support could come from someone who didn’t need to be in the same room or even the same city. Sometimes you can’t find the right person in your local community, so why restrict yourself from getting the best staff member just because they aren’t geographically near to you? Tricia and Brian’s experience working together remotely encouraged them that a remote staffing company that helps other organizations find virtual staff could be a great service to leaders.
Navigating The Challenges
1. The Physical Set Up – The first and largest hurdle you have to get over first is technology. You have to ensure everyone on a remote team is set up with laptops, phones, internet, video conferencing services, webcams, etc. You also have to ensure each employee has an appropriate work environment that is available to them every day. This includes an appropriate background and a lack of disruption.
2. Define Your Communication Strategy – When you’re used to working in an office environment, there are many forms of communication available to you, but in-person is always available. At home, you lose the ability to walk up to someone to ask a question. It’s important to realize you’ll email way more when you’re working remotely. You’ll have more direct messages and more video calls because it’s really the only way to communicate. It’s critical for companies and teams to set guidelines about when to use which type of communication.
For example, direct message when it’s a quick question or urgent, but email when multiple people need to see a less urgent note. Use video conferencing when you need to brainstorm or have a conversation that can’t be done quickly over email. This will maintain efficiency by keeping everyone’s channels clear for the right kind of communication at the right time.
3. Communicate More Than Necessary – It’s important to set up reoccurring video calls with the key players on your team to ensure there is time set aside to touch base. Zoom is great because you can really see the person you’re talking to and know if they’re engaged in the conversation. This also helps prevent team members from becoming siloed, which is a major possibility in a remote environment.
TIP: Have your team send a weekly roundup of tasks they’re working on each week to build trust and routine. Tricia’s weekly round-up has four components that help build community and morale:
- Top 3 -5 projects of the week
- What help you need this week
- Professional and personal goals
- FYI time – this is to share any schedule differences or restrictions in your week, prayer requests, or anything else you feel like your team needs to know
How Generation Gaps Come Into Play
It makes sense that GenZ and Millenial workers feel more comfortable in this remote environment. After all, these generations were raised on technology and use technology as a primary form of communication in all other facets of their life.
However, as a staffing firm, Tricia shares that they don’t want to assume older generations aren’t willing or don’t want to work remotely. When discussing a remote job with a prospect, it’s important to be upfront about the guidelines. If you’re upfront and tell prospective and new hires how your business operates, most people will follow. It’s important to adjust the amount of training you incorporate to the employee’s needs. Some people might need a little more education on a tool to adjust, but at the end of the day, it’s like any skill – people adapt.
The Importance of Delegation
For an organization to grow, leaders must feel comfortable delegating tasks in order to work on the innovative, progressive, and future planning needed for a business to succeed. But delegating effectively can be hard, especially with limited resources.
BELAY has been rated one of the fastest-growing companies in the nation, which is partly attributed to their ability to delegate well and teach others how to do so.
Tricia shares that the first step is understanding that you can’t continue to do all the things you’re doing, and then looking for who can help. Bringing on part-time staff or interns is great for the administrative necessities that take up so much time. Some companies even hire volunteers for less urgent and regular tasks.
For recurring tasks or for areas where you have less expertise, outsourcing is a great option. Start small if you need to. Once your higher-level management is able to take time to work on the things that grow the company, you can start expanding and hiring.
BELAY handles delegation extremely well through their Delegation Matrix, essentially a list of everything you do in a day, down to the smallest tasks. When you see it all written down, you can sort items by importance and the ability to delegate. Having a birds-eye view of everything you do helps you to prioritize, and even if you can’t delegate it all today, you know the first steps when you do have that opportunity.
This time of extended remote work is an opportunity to learn and grow. Instead of waiting for things to go back to business as usual, use this time to assess where you can shift and pivot as a company no matter what work environment you’re in. “If you delegate tasks, you will create doers. But if you delegate responsibility, you will create leaders.” – Craig Groeschel
During COVID-19, BELAY is offering a short-term, 60-90 day virtual assistant service to meet the ever-changing needs right now. Read more on BELAY’s website for more information on how you can get started with short-term virtual assistance.