Remote Team Management for Nonprofits

by Emil Hajric

There’s no sugarcoating it: These are challenging times for nonprofit organizations operating in any industry, in any area of the world.

As Jeff Jowdy recently explained though, these challenging times are the exact moments your nonprofit team needs to lean into serving those you’ve always pledged to serve.

Of course, with global shutdowns and social distancing laws in full effect, your organization will need to revamp the way it operates.

The key to keeping things moving in the right direction: enabling remote operations throughout your organization.

How Can Operating Remotely Benefit Your Nonprofit Organization?

OK, let’s say your nonprofit hasn’t yet made the jump to remote operations in any capacity, let alone in full.

To be sure, undergoing such a transformation can seem like a monumental task – especially during a global health crisis. While it might not be easy, it’s definitely worth it for your organization and the communities you serve. (This goes for the present moment and in the future when things return to some semblance of normal.)

For one thing, remote workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts. As a 2018 survey from Flexjobs shows, 65% of employees feel more productive when working from home.

To add to that, operating remotely allows nonprofits (and other organizations) to run more efficiently. Conservative estimates from Global Workplace Analytics show that companies can save an average of $11,000 per employee per year by enabling teams to work remotely. (And this is only if they work from home just half of the time. Imagine how much you could end up saving by taking your team completely into the digital realm!)

For nonprofits looking to add talented employees or volunteers to their team, offering remote work is vital. By today’s standards, most highly-qualified individuals actively seek out companies that provide remote working options. What’s more, operating remotely allows you to tap into talent pools all over the world – not just your own backyard.

As the manager of a nonprofit, your main goal is always to keep productivity levels high, while keeping costs as low as possible. This, of course, applies now perhaps more than ever before.

So, in order to continue pressing forward and providing valuable service to your clients (throughout this crisis and beyond), you need to take your nonprofit operations online.

4 Key Remote Team Management Tips for Nonprofit Organizations

Like we said, making the transition to remote operations during the COVID-19 shutdown will take some effort on your part, as well as that of your team.

But, it’s not impossible to make it happen.

And again: You may find that operating remotely actually allows you to do more for your clientele than ever before.

That is, as long as you approach the transition strategically.

Let’s take a look at what this all entails:

  1. Set Expectations From the Start

If the concept of working remotely is uncharted territory for your nonprofit, the prospect of making this transition will only add to the uncertainty that the shutdown has already brought about.

Unfortunately, this uncertainty can derail your efforts from the get-go if you haven’t sufficiently prepared your team.

So, don’t dive in just yet.

Take a step back.

Recognize that you’ll likely need to tweak – and even overhaul – a number of your processes to make them work when operating remotely.

This means you’ll need to revisit your standard operating procedures, your employee handbook and any other documents detailing how your team members are to approach their duties.

As you optimize your processes for virtual operations, it’s crucial that you communicate these changes clearly to your employees and volunteers. On a team-wide and individual level, be sure that everyone knows how their responsibilities and priorities have shifted – and what they need to do to streamline the transition for everyone involved.

It’s also important to communicate the ways in which making these changes will benefit your employees, your volunteers, and the people your team serves. This will make it more likely for the changes to “stick” in your team members’ minds – and will ensure they put in the effort necessary to bring your new vision into reality.

On the other side of this, it will also help to explain to your team how things aren’t changing within your organization. In such times of uncertainty, keeping your team grounded in the familiar will allow them to expand their comfort zone in a productive and manageable manner.

  1. Allow for Flexibility

The key reason remote workers are generally more productive and efficient is increased flexibility.

(As a quick side note, the current situation obviously doesn’t allow for complete flexibility for your team members. For the time being, they don’t have the option to, say, head to their local coffee shop to get work done.)

At any rate, your goal is to provide your remote team members with as much flexibility as possible – while still ensuring they stay on track to complete their assigned tasks.

The key area of concern here is…READ MORE