Apr 3, 2020

Leading Remote Teams from Home

Video Transcript:

Ashley Ryan: Hi, everyone. It’s Ashley. Ryan and Michaela Keeley from in Envolta accounting and bookkeeping Michaela is our leader of people, she’s our human resources guiding the troops and I’m the Chief Innovation Officer.

Ashley Ryan: I have worked online full time for over 15 years so I’m an old pro at it and I know Michaela is also really digging in Michaela you’ve been working from home as well.

Michaela Kealey: Yeah, for about three years now. Okay.

Ashley Ryan: There we go. So right now, in times of turbulence. It’s such a critical skill, but the problem is it’s not intuitive.

Ashley Ryan: And there’s something to it. So people think, Oh, I’ll just work from home, it’s not really like that. You don’t just work from home, one person is very different from an entire team.

Michaela Kealey: One person as like a contractor consultant

Michaela Kealey: Right, yeah.

Ashley Ryan: The word. Yeah. One person working from home versus you managing your entire team from home is very different. So we wanted to give you some tips, tips today on not being rude.

Michaela Kealey: No wonder the message.

Ashley Ryan: Today on how to manage your remote teams use my language.

Ashley Ryan: These are valuable to you. So the first one Michaela chimed in. Anytime is having regular touch points. So like at an office, you have a water cooler, you go, you could pop your head over the thing and look and say hi to someone, but working from home, you don’t.

Michaela Kealey: All right. Yeah, go ahead. I was just gonna say I even transitioned to working full time with the team in Volta. It’s amazing to me how much the tools, the touch point tools are so necessary to a happiness personal happiness scale, but then also the effectiveness of the team.

Ashley Ryan: Absolutely. And we’re going to tell you guys about our tools in a minute.

Ashley Ryan: Yeah. But absolutely, you need to have those touch points and there has to be tools to support those touch points, so, so important that in offline working

Ashley Ryan: In online working, you want to over communicate instead of thinking, am I communicating too much as too much communication.

Ashley Ryan: You really want to over communicate and have those regular touch points, whether it’s like your weekly meeting, your daily meeting, you’re going on Slack kind of checking in. It’s very important to have those regular touch points. So anything you want to add to that Michaela

Michaela Kealey: Yeah, and really I find it. It’s so eye opening to know that sometimes you think it’s overkill, but you really find these important nuggets of information or you uncover something because you have this touch point scheduled and you show up to it. It’s

Michaela Kealey: It’s crucial.

Ashley Ryan: Yeah, that’s such a great point. So when you’re at live with somebody you read all these body language and all these new wants and you get information that you wouldn’t normally get. But online.

Ashley Ryan: You can’t get that information in the same way. Right. So it’s like what you’re saying you’re gleaming nuggets from these meetings or from this regular communication that you really need in order to run your teams effectively.

Michaela Kealey: Uh huh. Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ashley Ryan: So that’s kind of number one is don’t be afraid.

Ashley Ryan: Of over communicating over doing things on the communication level there’s not too much of that number two is it’s important to have transparency, I think.

Michaela Kealey: Yeah tell

Ashley Ryan: Tell me more about that. Well, it’s even more crucial than ever to have transparency, because again, you’re not seeing people you don’t know what people are doing. You don’t know what’s going on. Right.

Michaela Kealey: Right. And like again just layering that over a communication piece, but really being specific with the information that you’re offering to the people on your team.

Ashley Ryan: By that can use an example.

Michaela Kealey: Like for example, I would say, you know, just just really taking the time to know that your Messages, Direct versus abstract like Hey Team work really hard today or hey, the focus that we’re looking at today is x y AMP Z clients and I want to see them by the end of the day.

Michaela Kealey: Great, you know,

Michaela Kealey: I was just thinking like maybe that’s not so much transparency as it is deliverable but just taking that one step further with like, hey, we’re focusing on XYZ because

Michaela Kealey: Of this issue that we’re presenting itself. So like explaining, taking that one step further to explain the why of what you’re asking for in full transparency as it relates to the business.

Ashley Ryan: Okay, well, I love that because that ties into point three, which is accountability.

Ashley Ryan: Flying there’s

Ashley Ryan: There’s so much more accountability, because you can actually see people getting the work done.

Ashley Ryan: But remotely, you’re not seeing what people are doing.

Ashley Ryan: So there needs to be accountability for example having your team members send you a daily report of the items that they did for

Ashley Ryan: When you have your customer, your CRM and those tasks, you have to have that accountability piece or else it’s just a Gong Show excuse for the language.

Michaela Kealey: Right. And yeah, as a business owner, you would need that also as an employee, you need that.

Michaela Kealey: Framework for yourself. Yeah, sorry. I think I covered my mic. Yeah, you need that structure in order to know how to structure yourself because it really is.

Michaela Kealey: That personal accountability. If somebody is walking into work every day and to their living room and otherwise it can be all over the place. If they don’t have those bumper rails up for though.

Ashley Ryan: Totally. And just so everybody knows we edit Volta and have about 40 employees now and they’re working from all over the world. So it’s very important that things work smoothly. Because again, some people have a hard time working from home.

Ashley Ryan: Here’s another thing I’d encourage you as a leader.

Ashley Ryan: To talk to your team about it everybody works differently. So I don’t know what your corporate policy is or your corporate structure, but it’s very important to allow people the space to think about how they want to work.

Ashley Ryan: For me, I don’t work well. Every day nine to five. I just don’t. I never have I never will I work in spurts so though I can be available nine to five.

Ashley Ryan: Which we’re going to talk about next. The parameters, even though it can be available nine to five my best work is done. Sometimes at night so checking in and not boxing people in. What do you think.

Michaela Kealey: I really love that. And I think that’s an excellent layer on the accountability piece in terms of if you have that accountability and you know what you are wanting from your employees.

Michaela Kealey: On any given day, week, month, you can you can check in with them to make sure that that’s being delivered versus just expecting them to be there nine to five as the measure of them being effective or not, which we know that it isn’t, or what research shows that it isn’t.

Ashley Ryan: How so honoring the people’s ways of working in finding out individually when you hire these people are working, what is ideally for you. What is the way that companies survey? What is the way that you like to work? That’s another thing is company surveys are a huge part of working remotely.

Ashley Ryan: We’re always doing some kind of survey, whether it’s once a month.

Ashley Ryan: once every two weeks, whatever. You don’t want to overkill, but company surveys are very helpful. We Kayla’s the queen of those.

Michaela Kealey: Yeah, and making them anonymous really really get the true feelings of the overall workforce. Yeah.

Ashley Ryan: Yes. Okay, that jumps into another at least another point of having a framework and a structure. So, office hours, what tools are we using where the Wikis and databases to go to like what else for structure Michaela

Michaela Kealey: Yeah, well, when you’re talking about sort of how you like to work and how that’s layered on accountability and that an employer’s.

Michaela Kealey: Needs to be checking in with their employees to find out how they like to work. I think what’s important. There is it. It doesn’t mean that you have to build out multiple systems for every different person and how they like to be what you need to do is find that common ground or this

Michaela Kealey: You know, something that you’re really comfortable with.

Michaela Kealey: Like a system that works for you, tools that work for you, hours that work for you.

Michaela Kealey: while also maintaining that mindset of flexibility, like for example in Volta. We have a crossover working hours of 11 to three Eastern Standard Time. So we have people exactly what I said all over the world, but

Michaela Kealey: They’re expected to show up between 11am and 3pm eastern standard time so that we can know that we can have fast communication internally and we can check in with people.

Michaela Kealey: Just like we would in the office. Like, how you doing today, all of those things. This is our. This is our bucket outside of that when people work is fine, but we need to know we’re coming together that time every day because it’s helpful for us to keep the business moving forward. So

Ashley Ryan: I love that. And to add to that because with remote work we sometimes have no idea what people are up to like John’s disappeared. We’re trying to get ahold of Bob, you know, or Jane or whatever were

Ashley Ryan: We want to have that crossover. So it’s like, I know that if I pick up the phone, chances are, I can generally get in touch with so and so.

Ashley Ryan: And that’s another thing of using the structure if I don’t know where Jane is, but I can go check her Google Calendar and see okay she’s away it’s using those tools and enforcing those tools, the systems and in Volta were huge on systems.

Ashley Ryan: And really, you know, our CD CEO David Donato he always goes back to systems, the systems and I’m totally on board with that.

Ashley Ryan: You don’t want to invent all these jobs based around people you want to have these roles and the systems and you want to put place people into their respective role sees

Ashley Ryan: Her so so let’s talk about tools that we use with Kayla, what are your favorite tools and why

Michaela Kealey: I think so, like maybe boring. But my favorite tool is the Google Calendar.

Michaela Kealey: Bar none. I love when I want to reach out to people or book meetings or check their availability. It’s so helpful to see where people are what they’re in that you can

Michaela Kealey: Go without pinging anybody or interrupting them or going back and forth with meaning times you can just see the calendar on a one on one BLANKET. LOOK, I LOVE the Google Calendar.

Ashley Ryan: It’s very robust and functional

Michaela Kealey: Totally. And it’s, it’s just it’s a it’s a beautiful tool and the functionality of, you know, connecting your appointments to zoom, which is I think my second favorite tool or, you know, they probably they tie for first place I think for me, because

Michaela Kealey: Being remote and I’m such a social person there is so much communication that happens non verbally and well you know I think we all understand that best case scenario of

Michaela Kealey: Of communicating in person. It’s the ultimate and and you know it’s not when we’re trying to work with people all over the world. We don’t have that.

Michaela Kealey: Capability and and obviously now we’re seeing teams and employers have

Michaela Kealey: You know, you have to really switch to the zoom as an amazing platform to be able to visually connect with the people on your team and pick up those external clues that you wouldn’t otherwise if you were just talking about.

Ashley Ryan: Tools. So, for example, Google Calendar has a button where you can click a button in your zoom link that is embedded in the calendar. So all of these tools can link I want to add with Google. So most people like Google Drive. Oh my gosh, I love Google Drive. It’s so my thing, but

Michaela Kealey: There’s a thing called Google

Ashley Ryan: For business. So some of you might be operating and you might have a domain within Google.

Ashley Ryan: Like whatever your company’s com but there’s a thing called Google Apps for Business, where you could upgrade and you get all of these platforms like you get the Google Sites and then you get all this limiting

Ashley Ryan: Privacy in different things. Google Drive is very powerful and Google for business Google Apps. It’s called

Ashley Ryan: It’s super powerful. If you haven’t looked into it, you definitely want to look into that. So we have zoom for online meetings, zoom you can do breakout rooms, you can record audio transcripts like basically. So this meeting will be downloaded.

Ashley Ryan: You can record videos, you could do screen sharing with annotations. So say you’re sharing something you can draw on that.

Michaela Kealey: You can do webinars.

Ashley Ryan: You can do webinars have poles breakout again breakout groups up a little rooms and

Ashley Ryan: Some of the stuff we do so Michaela tells. Well, we’re kind of telling people about the Culture Committee.

Michaela Kealey: So we, we actually just started this. A few months ago, but it’s been a couple months ago now and it’s been a really interesting melding of teams across

Michaela Kealey: across our nation. So, you know, I think we get really comfortable with the people that we’re used to working with on a regular basis. But then we get out of touch with the rest of the company, which is so important to you know

Michaela Kealey: As an employee to attach to the overall mission and to really understand that we are all working together. And when we know who we’re working with.

Michaela Kealey: It’s a we work better when we understand who people are on a fundamental social level we act with more care we check our tone in our emails more or we understand who that person is, and how they communicate and and we don’t infer assumptions based on based on them being short in an

Michaela Kealey: Email, for instance, we just

Ashley Ryan: Realized that for them. Right.

Michaela Kealey: Yeah, absolutely. So the Culture Committee is a collective of involved employees that are pulled from multiple different teams all all across the company and are basically tasked with

Michaela Kealey: Bringing together the mission of the Culture Committee actually is the best and we we did a really cool exercise in order to find this out, but

Michaela Kealey: What we really came down to, is we know in bolt it is really a family and the mission of the Culture Committee is to bring the sense of family in Volta remotely. And so in all of the things that we’re doing all the initiatives that we’re, we’re starting on it’s really

Michaela Kealey: asking ourselves, does this bring a remote sense of family.

Ashley Ryan: Awesome. So the culture. So people when people run companies. They think, Oh, we can’t have anything personal or fun right

Ashley Ryan: But that is not true. You want to incorporate fun. You want to incorporate

Ashley Ryan: Joy into your team and like getting to know people on a personal level. So we highly encourage that you have one thing, a great tool to do that with a slack.

Ashley Ryan: Like an instant messenger service. Basically, you would have different channels, you can have different rooms.

Ashley Ryan: And our channels are really relevant to our business. So I’ll give you an example. We have a social media channel where people post things that we can post on social media, the whole team can contribute

Ashley Ryan: We have categories according to our business. So since we’re in accounting. We have personal tax category corporate tax we have payroll. So when you’re posting something relevant to that you posted in the correct channel right

Ashley Ryan: So if you owned a bakery, you could have the, the, the Wall Street location.

Ashley Ryan: The Kingston location, whatever. Or you could have like the cupcakes channel or the bread baking channel or whatever, like you want the channels to be relevant to the business.

Ashley Ryan: We have like a staying relevant channel what’s relevant what’s hot right now. Actually, I’m going to look, we have our leadership channel where it’s like our managers come

Ashley Ryan: And get together. We also have a work life balance channel where people can share kind of fun things, that’s another really popular channel.

Michaela Kealey: Mm hmm. And I think, I think that that you know, both in Slack and Google Drive. It’s really giving people the right places to have the right communication versus, you know, all communication happening via email, and which gets really overwhelming. Right.

Ashley Ryan: No. Totally, yeah. If you have become just this vortex right stuff.

Ashley Ryan: Exactly. So I highly encourage you to first of all have a structure.

Ashley Ryan: For you’re working from home. Set your hours, what you want to look like, what your expectations are, people will it’s more Lucy. You see, you need to have that framework and expectations. Number two.

Ashley Ryan: Is overly communicating communicating as much as possible and then having those cultural things to support it, like the Culture Committee or

Ashley Ryan: Your they have this thing buffer. I think barcelo has this thing called Mr. Rogers where you get together once a week and you socialize with your team members. It’s just like a social thing.

Ashley Ryan: So that’s an important number for whatever it was, is having the tools, having your tools, you know, Google Drive slack. We have the calendar. We have zoom

Ashley Ryan: We have lead pages which means their marketing. There’s all these different tools. So that’s really important. So I don’t want to be overwhelmed. Is there anything else you want to add Michaela

Michaela Kealey: Yeah, I think, you know, whatever it is for your remote teams, whatever you whatever framework, whatever tools that you’re adding just make sure they work for you and if you

Michaela Kealey: are open to a more flexible workplace or if you’re halfway between just find what works for you and the people on your team.

Ashley Ryan: Yeah and if any of this resonated with you. We do consulting and advisory services around this kind of thing.

Ashley Ryan: So I’ve been doing this a very long time. The Kayla’s available to we can look at what you’re saying and at what’s going on for you and set things help you

Ashley Ryan: set that up and have a plan. Come up with a culture and engagement that is working remotely. So if you go to, there’s a URL around here floating somewhere and volta.ca

Ashley Ryan: You could reach out to me, I’m Ashley. This is Michaela and yeah, and we hope to really be able to support you. So thanks so much.

Michaela Kealey: Thank you.

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