Whether by choice or by mandate, companies around the globe are shifting to a remote working structure for the foreseeable future. It’s the new normal, at least for now, for corporate offices and ancillary cannabis businesses. While taking an entire team to an online-only structure seems daunting at first, there are plenty of tools available to help maintain communication, productivity, and team morale. Setting up remote guidelines and best practices with your team now will save you time and frustration down the road. 

Check out our 10 tips for a successful remote structure. We know everyone is on a tight schedule right now, so we provided a quick summary of the key points for each tactic. When you’re ready to dive in, our extended explanation is here when you need it. 

(Please note Vangst is not sponsored by any of the tools mentioned. We are simply sharing what’s worked for us in hopes that it can help you, too!)

Get comfortable with the latest tech 

Our favorite tech platforms checklist:

  • Slack for internal team communications
  • Asana for detailed project management 
  • Sunsama or Trello for easy to-do list visibility 
  • G-Suite for email management, cloud storage, document creation, and calendars 

The tech tools available to you and your team extend beyond your email provider. Communication is key when face-to-face interactions are limited. Here are some of our favorite platforms and what we use them for.

(Almost) Everything: G-Suite is a must-have for cannabis businesses. G-Suite hosts an email platform, cloud storage, document creation (think Microsoft Office, but online and collaborative), and calendars that allow for collaboration across teams. 

Team communications: Slack is an instant messenger platform that keeps your email inbox free from clutter by bringing the quick questions and brainstorms under one roof. You can directly message someone, or, start a channel with different teams (like sales or marketing) to keep quick questions and brainstorms in one place. We’ve used Slack long before moving remote and highly suggest this platform for organizing your team’s day-to-day communications.

Video conferencing: Some Slack plans offer video chat capabilities, but there are also tons of video conferencing platforms out there that may better suit your company’s unique needs. Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, and GoToMeeting are just some of the platforms available for you and your team. 

Project management: If you’re looking to organize all of your projects by team members, topics, due dates, subtasks, and every detail in-between, Asana is a powerful tool to consider. If you don’t need to show every single detail within the platform and would rather receive a daily update from each team member on current projects, Trello and Sunsama are great tools for high-level overviews. 

Set guidelines for communication

Remote communication - Vangst

Key takeaway: Determine what channels your team should use for each form of internal and external communication. 

With new tools in place, it’s easy to jump right in and forget to use other channels of communication that may be better suited for the question or project at hand. Once you’ve chosen the platforms you’d like your team to use, send out a clearly outlined email detailing the purpose for each avenue of communication. For conversations outside of your organization, email, phone, and video chat remain the standard. 

Examples of communication guidelines:

  • Slack for: Team announcements, 1:1 questions or communications, and team brainstorming
  • Asana for: Keeping track of projects, subtasks, and deadlines
  • Trello or Sunsama for: quick to-do’s and a daily glace at team priorities 

While this is what’s worked for our team, you may find that your business is better suited for a different model. Whatever direction you choose, make sure to clearly outline your preferred methods of communication for the entire team so your business remains as efficient as possible. 

Keep your hiring process seamless

Key takeaway: Video conferencing and over-communicating with your candidates can be life-savers for keeping your hiring process in motion. 

Although face-to-face interaction is off the table, video conferencing tools are an excellent way to continue interviewing new hires. Postponing interviews or onboards may result in the candidate losing interest. While the COVID-19 pandemic feels endless right now, there will come a point when businesses will be ready once again hit the ground running – and in person. Make sure your team is operating at 100% before the rebound happens so you don’t have to make up for lost time. 

Here are some tips for interviewing remotely:

  • Check in with your candidates immediately. Let them know that you’re still interested in moving forward with the interview and send over the details of the video conferencing tool you’d like to use. Provide a number for them to reach you at if technical difficulties occur before or during the interview. 
  • Set up a quiet, non-distracting location in your home for the interview to take place. Utilize headphones to minimize noise. 
  • Proceed with your interview the same way you would in person, ask the same questions and provide the same level of professionalism.

If you’re short on time but want to continue growing your team, Vangst is here to find the right person for your cannabis hiring needs. We verify, vet, and interview all cannabis-qualified, compliant candidates so you can focus on your other needs at hand. 

Working remote works for new employees, too

remote onboard - Vangst

Key takeaways: Keep your new hires engaged through modified on-boarding tactics and use any extra time to brush up on cannabis industry knowledge.  

Onboarding new hires while your team is remote sounds tricky, but it’s something we’ve helped clients with since the beginning of Vangst. Following the same video conferencing protocol as above, get your new hire engaged and up-to-speed with anything that doesn’t require in-person shadowing. Here are some ways to keep them engaged during this time:

  • Schedule a 30-minute virtual meet and greet with each department so your new hire can get to know everyone and dive into the inner workings of each department. 
  • Use the “share screen” feature in the video platform to shadow their departmental team members remotely. 
  • Host learning sessions for common platforms used by your company, like Slack or Asana. Use the screen share feature so your new hire can follow along. If you’ve kept your cloud storage organized, remote onboarding is just as effective as in-person for teaching new employees how to navigate your file management hierarchy and resources they need.
  • Outline the new hire’s 30, 60, and 90-day goals.
  • Use any extra time as an opportunity to improve his or her cannabis education, role-specific knowledge, and company-wide familiarity. 

Schedule regular check-ins

What works for us: Daily departmental video chat check-ins and weekly all-team video status updates. 

When working remotely, you lose the daily, “how’s it going?” vibe and the ease of effortless team check-ins. By scheduling weekly all-team video check-ins and daily departmental stand-ups, you help your employees remain connected during this isolating time. It seems simple, but adding the video feature for these meetings brings the human element into the situation. Find a time that works for your company and each department to check in and quickly run through top priorities, just like you would if you were in the office.  

Combat cabin fever

remote exercise - Vangst

Daily health checklist:

  • Get up and move periodically 
  • Get dressed and maintain healthy hygiene 
  • Check-in with your team beyond daily projects – make sure everyone feels healthy and supported. 

While moving around is less enforceable, it’s equally as important for your team’s morale and health. Encourage your team to get up and move around (within their own homes). As a way to connect with your team in a light-hearted (and healthy-hearted!) way, consider adding in daily challenges like completing 30 jumping jacks. For added fun, incorporate your video chat platform and compete as a team. 

Oftentimes when “working from home” is mentioned, our minds jump right to working in our PJs. While most employees don’t need to throw on a three-piece suit to start the day, it’s a good idea to wear your normal work attire, especially if you’re utilizing video chat. Plus, it helps create a sense of productivity instead of rolling right out of bed. 

Working from home can be a new and isolating experience for many. Make sure to ask your team if they are feeling mentally and emotionally supported at this time as well. 

Create a sense of community 

Key takeaway: Don’t lose your company culture while working from home. Incorporate light-hearted conversations and mood-boosters when time permits to ease the tension. 

Company culture is more important than ever during this isolating time. Does your team share funny GIFs or pictures of your pets? Don’t lose sight of these team-building tactics when your team needs them most. Check out some of our Slack channel favorites for inspiration for your team. 

Our Slack channel favorites:

  • #TastyTunes – For songs that help us get through the day
  • #PawsitiveVibes – For sharing photos of our furry friends 
  • #WaterCooler – For non-work related banter like GIFs or memes

Enlist the help of IT professionals

Best practices: Work with your internal IT team or hire an IT specialist to help troubleshoot for your employees. 

With the entire team working remotely, tech troubleshooting is bound to happen. Make sure you have a dedicated IT support system and plan in place for when it does. If you have an IT team, meet with them to determine the best course of action for tech-related problems. They may suggest a software like Meraki to both increase security and provide an outlet for remote help when issues arise. 

If you don’t have an IT team in place, consider hiring an IT consultant during this time. Vangst is trained in finding cannabis-informed tech support, let us know if you’d like to connect with our talent through the contact form below. 

Join in the conversation 

Cannabis webinar - Vangst

What works for us: Authentic social media discussions and video updates. 

Social media is a great tool for remaining connected to your fan base while practicing social distancing. Now is the time to really connect with your followers and lean in to some of the more engaging content like webinars, digital communities, or virtual events. Larger content strategies can take some digging to get started, use this time to hone in your team’s content plan for the remainder of the year. 

Videos are an effective way to update your fans on what’s going on with your business. During this isolation period, showing authentic human connection through video helps cut through the noise and anxiety. What information does your company hold that is useful given the current situation? Sharing tactics or best practices via webinar is an engaging way to connect with your audience. 

Ask for feedback and continually improve your plan

No matter how much you prepare, unforeseen situations are bound to arise. Keep your lines of communication open to your team so you can continually improve your remote structure. Communication is key to the success of working from home, let your team know that you are here to help and open to suggestions for improvement. 

This is a new frontier for everyone, and mistakes will happen, but we’ll move forward and get through this together. Have some best practices you’d like to share with us? Leave us a comment below!

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