How to Create Workflows While Working Remotely

When the coronavirus pandemic first struck, most organizations only expected the shift to remote work to be temporary. But as many saw the benefits of the working model, they embraced it. Statistics show that more than 4.7 million people in the United States now work remotely at least half the time. And according to PwC’s U.S. Remote Work Survey, 55% of employees would prefer to work remotely three or more days every week. Remote work gives employees more control over their workdays and has been proven to save companies millions of dollars.

There are a plethora of virtual collaboration tools available, so adopting a remote work model is a lot easier than it was before. However, many organizations struggle to adapt because they just don’t know how to coordinate employees to ensure optimal productivity. Creating automated workflows allows remote workers to easily collaborate and increase their productivity.

A workflow automation solution ensures your company’s processes and administrative tasks keep running smoothly even if your team is fully remote. The routine processes that are the lifeblood of your daily operations don’t disappear once your team goes virtual. Workflow automation software can digitize and streamline your business processes, allowing remote teams to function efficiently.

Steps to Building a Workflow for Remote Teams

  1. Examine Your Organization’s Existing Workflows: Are your current processes as efficient as they should be?
  2. Identify the Bottlenecks: Do some tasks take longer to complete than they should? Are there manual tasks you can automate to enhance employee and company productivity?
  3. Automate One Workflow First: Once you’ve identified workflows that are ripe for automation, automate one first. Start with a small pilot project and build your experience before you automate more workflows. The process should be simple enough to be modelled quickly but complex enough to benefit from automation.
  4. Create Digital Forms: Create custom digital forms that cater to your business needs. You’ll avoid duplicating data and can even include options like electronic signatures.
  5. Design Workflows: Use the workflow software to create workflows and add rules that dictate the relationship between different steps in the workflows. For example, a form can be routed to the next step in the workflow only if a specific field is completed.

5 Automation Challenges That May Arise and How to Overcome Them

1.     Choosing the Wrong Solution

If you choose the wrong workflow automation tool, it won’t benefit your business at all. Pick a solution that enables team leaders to automate processes without needing IT support. These people understand their processes and know what a streamlined workflow will look like.

Involve team leaders in the solution selection process to ensure you choose the best. It should be a no-code enterprise application that allows them to easily take on automation responsibilities. The best software will improve workflows and boost productivity, giving you maximum returns on your investment.

2.     Automating Inefficient Processes

Many organizations believe that workflow automation software will automatically fix bad and inefficient processes. This isn’t true. By automating a flawed process, you only magnify its inefficiency, worsening the original problem. Take time to analyze your organization’s processes before automating them. You’ll be able to identify the inefficiencies and fix them to ensure optimal automation performance.

3.     Poor Adoption

For automation to work, your workforce must be knowledgeable and prepared for change. Educate your employees about the solution’s value and purpose. Empower them with in-depth training and include them in the decision-making process. Make it clear that automating manual tasks will allow them to focus on higher-value work and contribute more to the company.

4.     Getting Decision-Makers on Board

You may have difficulty convincing the decision-makers in the organization that automating workflows is the right move. But this is crucial if some of the people determine whether or not you have the financial resources to make automation work. To get around this, you can provide case studies that show how companies similar to yours saved money, boosted productivity, and realized other benefits after automating workflows.

5.     Failing to Use the Right Metrics to Assess Results

Setting automation goals is essential, but you must also determine the metrics you’ll use to check whether you’re meeting those goals. The metrics you choose should be based on your goals. Take time to choose the results to track and the metrics to use.

For example, your goals may be to speed up common tasks to enhance productivity, to reduce employee mistakes or errors, to improve safety for human workers, and to free up employees’ time so they can focus on higher-value work.

Don’t start to measure results right away, you can do it quarterly or bi-annually. If you identify issues in the automated workflows, take corrective action and get rid of things that hamper progress.

Why Are Automated Workflows the Obvious Choice for Remote Teams?

Streamline Remote Work

When processes are converted into streamlined workflows and made accessible through a centralized dashboard, employees can track everything happening within their department. The team leader can also make templates for different processes and duplicate them whenever they want to create a new process to save time. Reviews and approvals happen quickly and there are lesser check-ins.

Improve Collaboration

Automation can streamline communication and collaboration in remote teams. Because team members can communicate well, they can collaborate effectively. While team leaders still handle some important communication parts, like giving feedback or providing context for decisions, automation takes care of the other tasks — like alerting team members about pending tasks. The software can send notifications for all project-related activities or completed tasks. Managers can also centralize notifications to check what team members have been doing.

Increase productivity

Several studies have shown that remote workers are more productive than office workers. On average, remote workers work one more day a week, waste 10 minutes less every day, and are 47% more productive. The productivity of remote teams is directly related to the work they do. Dull tasks can greatly affect their productivity, while creative tasks can enhance it.

When automation software is used to manage repetitive tasks with a predictable pattern, remote workers can focus on more challenging and creative tasks. In a past study, 69% of employees said that automation decreased time wastage during work hours.

The Takeaway

Remote work has become the norm and more companies are adopting the work model. However, it’s important to create automated, streamlined workflows for remote workers to ensure business operations run smoothly. Take time to understand the bottlenecks in your processes and to identify the best candidates for automation. Automate, monitor the results, and keep making changes to enhance your processes.

Chintan Jain is the Associate Director of Product Marketing at Kissflow, a unified platform that enables organizations to manage all types of work in one place.  Chintan is a skilled marketing practitioner who writes extensively on topics like workplace technologies, work management, and digital workplace. He also actively contributes to various business and technology platforms.