Remote Team Setup: Advice from TorchLight’s Chief Culture Officer Julie Lowe

by Susan Mullin

The work world (and the world in general) may change forever as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition to travel and event bans, school closings and even the quarantine of entire countries, remote work has become a reality more than ever before. Many of you may be forced to move to a remote team setup very quickly which can be stressful for managers and employees alike.

While you may have had 1 or 2 remote employees (or team members who work remotely a few days a week), you may not have considered how you would manage a fully remote team (or even department) before. TorchLight’s employees have worked 100% remotely since our founding in 2012.

We want to share our experience on important aspects of setting up and managing remote teams and individual employees that we’ve learned over the years. Part 1 of this series focuses on remote work technology and tools. We hope this will alleviate at least some of the worry and help you get your remote team tech setup working well and running FAST.

Technology and Tools

First, equipment and software

Many of your employees may even be using desktop computers and you’ll need to find a way to get them quickly set up with laptops (or move their desktops home) including user credentials, email accounts and necessary software.

Second, VPN setup

It can often be highly stressed with the addition of a higher volume of remote workers. This can be crucial for employees who may need to access secure systems and documents inside your firewall. Others may simply need ways to retrieve and save documents that aren’t highly sensitive. If you have a file sharing system like SharePoint set up, that will likely suffice for most situations.  DropBox and Google Drive are fast, easy tools to get up and running if you don’t already have an enterprise solution.

Third, tech support and training

You may also need to think about how employees can best access tech support from home. You may even need to put together some employee training on new tools to ensure top productivity and employee comfort with their new setup. Here are some additional recommendations on remote work tech and related tools to help out.

Fourth, video conferencing

We also recommend establishing a video conferencing tool if you don’t have one set up already. If you’re lucky, your company already uses something like Microsoft Teams so this won’t be a big transition. If not, there are some free tools like Zoom or Go to Meeting. These usually have some limitations, like numbers of participants allowed or length of call. Many people use Slack as a very affordable collaboration and communication tool, and you can use it to connect to various other tech tools you have (like Zoom and Dropbox) to centralize team access to all platforms. Google Hangouts is another one to explore. Luckily, several companies (including Zoom and Google) are currently offering free access to their enterprise remote tools including Microsoft, LogMeIn and Cisco WebEx. Check out this article from Inc. for more details.

Finally, phones and high-speed internet access

They are obviously another important aspect of remote work. Most, if not all, of your employees will be able to use their mobile phones (and, if possible, forward their landlines to them). If employees don’t have unlimited calling and need to use their mobile phones vs. video/audio calls on their laptop or desktop, Google Voice enables free mobile calls, as does Skype and obviously Facebook. Regardless, you may need to consider what you will reimburse for mobile and upgrades to Internet service during this time and set the policy prior to going to fully remote.

To make sure the technology and tools for remote team setup are ready, we suggest you schedule an immediate powwow with IT (if you haven’t already) to understand what remote tools they already have and what else you may need to get in place.

Read part 2 of our series on remote team setup “Keeping the Team Connected.”

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Posted in , Hiring Managers, Remote Work