31 Mar Quarantine: Business as usual with Managed Services
by Paul Temple
It’s been almost six years since I have had to report to a desk in an office. I can still recall the daily frustration with Atlanta traffic and questioning the sanity of trudging back and forth when I knew I had everything I needed to be successful right at home. Everything but the people, and those people are the most important part of success.
Other folks have written plenty about how to keep a schedule and be productive for those just now transitioning to remote work, so I won’t focus on that area. But I do want to talk about running a high-performance team that is fully remote and around the globe. It comes down to three things:
People. Process. Tools.
Managed Services is a product offering that I have spent a lot of time with over the years, and it covers all three of these areas. At Simplus, we have been able to make a real difference for our clients by providing high value and highly skilled Salesforce delivery on a fully remote and perpetual basis with our own Managed Services offering. Here’s how:
By putting people first in all decisions, we ensure successful outcomes for our client partners. We align our people based on common skills to create organic mentorships and career growth based on a shared interest and direction. We encourage continued learning not only by allocating time for each individual, but also by giving financial incentives so that they directly feel the investment Simplus is ready to make in them for the long-term. We typically connect with team events on a quarterly basis, but, during COVID-19 quarantine, that is clearly off the table. But, recognizing the importance of those gatherings, we have moved these team events to virtual events over Zoom and provided expenses to facilitate a remote happy hour.
People need to be and feel connected to each other, which is one of the main drivers for those who champion “in-office culture,” and there is little denying the synergy and productivity that is felt when a high-performance team is colocated and firing on all cylinders. However, there is no reason that this momentum cannot be driven remotely if it is done with purpose. People who work remotely at least once a month are 24 times more likely to be more productive (not to mention, happier). But that requires some focus on the process.
One of the most disliked aspects of being a grown-up is participating in meetings that feel irrelevant to us. When working remotely and aiming for full connectivity between colleagues, it is important to focus on effective and purposeful meetings. Utilize video (rather than phone or audio-only) for casual and productive meetings whenever possible—87 percent of remote workers feel more connected when their team meets over video. Meet with your mentor/mentee for daily coffee and take a few minutes to get to know each other on a personal level in addition to your 10–15 minute huddle for today’s plan. Set weekly or biweekly water cooler calls within your clusters to recreate that feeling of chance meetings in the break room and share Netflix, book, or board game suggestions with each other.
One effective process that we have leveraged at Simplus came directly from Salesforce, and that is the V2MOM (Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, Measurements). This tool helps teams align with their leadership and create personal goals to hold themselves accountable. This provides a launch point for each one-on-one manager/team lead meeting and gives clear direction beyond getting lost in the activities of the week. It helps us keep our eyes on the forest when we’re navigating through the trees, so to speak.
The greatest thing about working remotely in this era is that almost all tools are cloud-based. Of course, there are the basic tools that we all use daily (Zoom / Slack / Webex / Teams / Hangouts), and those don’t depend on being in the office or remote, so this is probably the easiest part of the transition. There are other considerations though. What if your resource typically uses a client-issued computer? There are solutions for adapting BYOD if your client can be flexible enough to use a solution like VMware’s Workspace One or Horizon virtual desktops. The great thing about these solutions is that they are cloud-based and can be deployed rapidly. That’s why tools such as Zoom and Skype for business hold over 45 percent of the professional video conferencing market (a number that’s likely only rising as remote work takes over).
While we are all dealing with these challenges of working remotely, some of us are having to adapt more suddenly and rapidly than others, potentially feeling lost in the shuffle or dead in the water. What I can tell you is the only way to be successful in shifting your entire workforce remote is to put the people first and to trust those people while still providing a means of accountability.
Paul is Managing Director of Managed Services at Simplus. He’s an experienced Professional Services Practice Builder with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. He has spanned the range of boutique startups to global systems integrators.