With nearly two-thirds of Americans working from home due to the pandemic, work has shifted drastically and, likely, permanently. Since many open offices don't have enough space to implement social distancing measures, a large portion of the workforce will have to stay at least partially remote for the foreseeable future.
Thus, now is a great time to reevaluate your existing systems and adopt new technologies that are a better fit for remote work.
Making technology changes during these uncertain times can be challenging. However, if you take an approach that's empathetic to your employees' needs, you can achieve a smooth adoption.
Keep Your Team Informed Throughout the Decision Process
In physical offices, news tends to travel organically. As soon as talks about significant changes begin, people start to hear about it and have opportunities to share their input. By the time you make an official announcement, your employees typically expect it and feel like they've at least had some say in the process.
Only the most well-developed remote teams have a natural grapevine where information spreads naturally. If you announce without warning that you're adopting a new CRM, performance management tool, or other forms of technology, it's going to take them off guard and make them more resistant to the tool.
Research shows that employees are significantly more likely to embrace change when it's expected, and they understand the implications. As soon as you start thinking about adopting new technology, let your team know and get input on what kinds of features they'd like to see. Keep your team in the loop as you work towards a decision so that they're ready for rollout.
Provide Value-Oriented Training
Even if your team is well-informed that they're getting new technology, you may still face some resistance once you roll it out. Adopting new tools often requires a significant time investment to learn the tool and fit it into existing ways of doing things.
Use training to highlight the benefits that the new tool offers to make your team's time commitment worthwhile. Here are some easy ways to provide value-oriented training:
- Create training materials that show how new technology makes their jobs easier and/or helps them succeed.
- Create short videos that show your team how to do specific tasks. Narrowing your video content down to one idea at a time makes it easy for your team to quickly find the information they need.
- Leverage your tool's training resources. Most software companies have a robust library of how-to videos and documentation. While these materials are generic, they cover a wide range of topics that your team may struggle with.
The easier and more value-oriented, the higher your rate of adoption and utilization will be.
Host Best Practices Sharing Sessions
Once your team has become acquainted with the new technology, look for your power users. These are the employees who have wholeheartedly embraced the tool and test new ways of using it. You can leverage their excitement and creativity to help increase the utilization of the rest of your team.
Invite your power users to host best practices sharing sessions where they teach the rest of your team how to do new tasks and how they approach solving issues within the tool.
Unlike introductory training, which - no matter how hard you try - can be generic and unengaging. These sharing sessions highlight particular use cases and creative ways to adapt the technology to support objectives that are unique to your team. This is typically much more interesting, especially for employees who are reluctant to fully adopt the new tool.
Learn more: How to Successfully Drive CRM Adoption
Focus on Communication Features
Poor communication is consistently one of the biggest challenges that remote teams face. From employees acting on unclear instructions to being held back because they don't know the status of other people's parts, there's a ton of small productivity issues that arise when people don't naturally have conversations throughout the day as they do in offices.
Often, remote teams resolve this issue by hosting frequent meetings and encouraging employees to communicate live as much as possible. However, when your team is working flexible hours to accommodate homeschooling and other responsibilities, having frequent meetings to share status updates and give quick reminders is neither practical nor efficient.
Instead of relying solely on live communication, heavily leverage your new technology to make communication easier. Most tools have a variety of communication features that allow your team to share status updates, best practices, instructions, questions, etc. that help your team stay up-to-date without having to constantly communicate live.
Often, employees don't notice collaboration features since they're secondary to the main parts of the tool. Thus, during rollout, focusing heavily on these features and enforce their usage. This will ensure that your team stays in the loop on everyone else's progress and isn't held back by a lack of communication.
Provide Utilization Support
One of the biggest challenges with adopting new technology - whether your employees are working in an office or remote - is that some tools take so much time to use that it's almost not worth it.
We see this most commonly with CRMs and productivity systems. It takes sales reps so much time to accurately input all of their data and create reports that they feel like the insights they gain aren't worth the time investment. As a result, they refuse to fully adopt the tool.
If you're struggling to get your team to adopt a new piece of technology or don't want them to waste time maintaining the system, consider offloading the responsibility to a virtual assistant. A VA can keep your systems up to date so your team can leverage the insights without the time investment.
To learn more, download our free guide to working with a Prialto virtual assistant or contact us to set up a free consultation.
About the Author: Emily leads Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.