While remote work is nothing new, I think it is fair to say that the world is currently busy with a grand-scale remote work experiment. And as many businesses move further and further away from office-based work, we are discovering new challenges that we need to deal with in order to make a success of our new shared reality. One of the major such challenges that I have seen is workflow management.
I think the reason for this is that workflow was often managed more informally than we realized. In an office, it is easy to quickly ask a colleague who is an expert for advice or assistance. When we are away from the office, we don’t want to waste time with calls or texts, so we try to do it ourselves – which takes even more time. It is therefore vital that the entire team is on the same page when it comes to workflow management. The following insights emerged from the discussions I had with my team to better manage our schedules.
- Look at what is in your schedule right now
At least once a week you should look at every single item on your to-do list, no matter how small. You can do this exercise with your team or even on your own. List these items from most important to least important. Then really ask how important the items at the bottom of the list are. If they are not vital, is it really in the interest of the business to do them at all? Sometimes, particularly if items have been on the list for a while, but are not done because they were not that important, you realize that you don’t really need to do it at all. It is also important to communicate to others that these items cannot be higher on your priority list due to other pressing issues. The person who asked for that job to be done may decide to do it themselves or give it to someone else.
2. Give your team a chance to shine
If you are leading a team, you can always ask for a volunteer to do a job that you don’t have the time to do. Some employees enjoy taking responsibility and by giving them the opportunity to do so, you empower them to step up.
3. Consider outsourcing
More people than ever are working from home and the market is quite congested at the moment, which means that you are still able to get quality outsourced work done at a very reasonable price. There are many online platforms where you can get qualified people to do just about anything, and some of them even have decent track records to put your mind at ease. The best thing about outsourced work is that you can do it on a task-by-task basis, which means that you can delegate some work when the workload is too much, but stop when the workload is more manageable. This is a much better solution than hiring someone who may not be busy all the time.