As the world shifts towards remote work, many NGOs have had to adapt to new ways of operating. Remote work can present unique challenges, such as difficulty in collaboration, potential for burnout, and maintaining team morale.
However, with the right strategies in place, remote work can also offer many benefits, including increased flexibility and access to a wider talent pool. In this article, we will explore five best practices for making remote work successful for your NGO.
1. Go agile, for real this time
The world is forever changing, and NGOs need to be able to respond to these changes in order to effectively carry out their respective mission. Combining an agile business model with remote working can be a successful approach, as long as certain steps are taken to ensure that both concepts are effectively integrated. Here are some of our suggestions:
- Agile communication: Adopt agile communication practices, such as stand-up meetings and regular retrospectives, to keep your remote team members connected and up to date. Take care not to spend too much time in meetings though. An average of thirty minutes per day should be enough.
- Virtual collaboration tools: Tools such as Slack, Trello, Google Workspace and Zoom helps to keep remote teams agile, as they allow you to respond quickly to changing circumstances, share ideas and feedback, and work together to overcome challenges.
- Cross-functional teams: Encourage cross-functional collaboration by creating virtual teams that include representatives from different departments and levels of the organis ation.
- Clear goals and priorities: Clearly define goals, priorities, and roles for remote team members of your NGO, and regularly review and adjust as necessary to ensure everyone is working towards the same objectives.
- Regular sentiment check-ins: Schedule regular check-ins with remote team members to ensure they feel supported and connected, and to address any challenges they may be facing. Make sure this does not become a work meeting.
- Adaptable processes: Be open to adapting your agile processes to better accommodate remote work, and regularly assess and adjust as needed to ensure they are effective.
By following these steps, you can effectively combine an agile business model with remote work, and create a flexible, responsive, and productive work environment.
2. Give a helping hand with these resources
Within any NGO, the mission is number one, and the mission can only be achieved when there is a strong and motivated team backing it.
Providing the necessary support and resource for your remote team are essential, with the following being just some of the key points:
- Clear expectations and guidelines: Clearly communicate expectations and guidelines for remote work, including working hours, communication protocols, and expectations for collaboration and teamwork.
- Flexible work arrangements: If you can, offer flexible work arrangements, such as flexible hours or the option to work from a different location, to accommodate the needs and preferences of your remote team.
- Technology and equipment: Provide your remote team with the tools such as laptops, high-speed internet access and any other technology they may require.
- Training and development: Offer training and development opportunities to help your team develop new skills and improve their work, even if they are working remotely.
- Mental health support: Offer resources and support to help your team maintain their mental health and well-being, such as access to an employee assistance program or virtual counseling services.
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3. Foster trust and accountability
Fostering trust and accountability with your remote teams is essential. It creates a positive and productive work environment, where team members feel confident in each other’s abilities and dependability. This helps to ensure that tasks are completed efficiently, goals are met, and the team operates smoothly.
Trust and accountability also help to build strong relationships among team members, leading to better collaboration and communication. When team members are trustworthy and accountable, it reduces the risk of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and mistakes, ultimately leading to better outcomes for the team and the organisation.
4. Promote teamwork and culture
Leading on from our last point, to form trust within your remote team it is vital to promote teamwork. Find ways to build relationships and foster a positive work culture through virtual team building activities and social events. This will vary depending on the size and budget, but a little goes a long way. A simple virtual chat over coffee will help team members to bond and develop a stronger sense of teamwork.
Encourage open and frequent communication between team members, set up regular virtual meetings, and use collaboration tools like email, instant messaging, and project management software.
5. Regularly assess and adapt
Staying effective and efficient is key. The way to do this is by regularly reviewing and evaluating your remote work process. You will also find it will help improve the experience for remote employees and the organisation along the way too. Here are some steps we recommend:
- Gather feedback: Conduct regular surveys or one-on-one meetings with employees to gather feedback on their remote work experience. This can provide valuable insights into what is working well and what areas need improvement.
- Analyse data: Use data and metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of remote work processes, such as employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction.
- Assess technology and tools: Regularly review the technology and tools being used for remote work to ensure they are effective and efficient.
- Evaluate work-life balance: Ensure that remote employees can maintain a healthy work-life balance, and make changes as needed to address any issues that may be impacting well-being.
- Encourage open communication: Open and honest communication between employees and management is essential, and address any concerns that may be impacting the remote work experience.
- Implement changes: Based on the feedback, data, and assessments, implement changes to the remote work process to continuously improve the experience for employees and the organisation.