In light of COVID-19 prevention measures, an unprecedented number of organisations have shifted to a remote workforce - many for the first time.
Remote working is associated with several benefits. Still, it can come with some challenges, including a lack of team cohesion, technology issues and eroded mental health due to working too much or lack of social interaction.
So, how can you overcome some of these issues? Follow our top six tips to help manage your (newly) remote workforce.
1. Provide your team with several different ways to communicate
Using email alone won’t cut it when it comes to communicating and collaborating remotely. Luckily, modern technology has made it easier than ever to make this type of arrangement work.
Providing access to video conferencing is a great start, and as close to a face-to-face interaction that you can get. Apps like Slack, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams are also great tools for quick collaboration, less formal or time-sensitive interactions.
Be sure to offer your team members a mix of these tools to help improve communication and productivity.
2. Establish structured daily check-ins
Be sure to establish a daily call check-in with your remote employees; either as a series of one-on-one calls or by jumping on a team call every day. Whatever method you choose, the most important thing is that you make these calls:
An open forum where employees can be heard
3. Keep the team engaged and connected
Team building is essential because it helps build trust, manage conflict, and improve communication and collaboration. So, it can’t take a back seat just because you’ve moved to remote working.
In the absence of Friday drinkies, monthly events and water-cooler talks, managers now need to be creative about how they get team members interacting. At a minimum, leave some time at the beginning of team meetings to encourage casual conversation non-work items (e.g., asking about everyone’s weekends). Many companies are also embracing virtual lunches/drinks, online fitness classes and even virtual pizza parties.
4. Offer emotional support
The abrupt shift in how we work and interact can leave some people feeling stressed and anxious. Managers need to acknowledge these feelings; ask questions, and truly listen to how your employees respond. Then, suggest some coping strategies or external resources.
5. Maintain regular one-on-ones
These days, it’s not as easy for employees to get one-on-one time with you because they can’t just come and knock on your door. So, make sure your employees know that you’re always available to them and schedule regular one-on-one meetings to check-in, set expectations, and set milestones/tasks for the coming week.
6. Trust your employees to get the job done
This is a big one.
If you’ve applied the same style of management for years, it can be daunting to mix it up and learn to trust your employees when you can’t physically see them. But if you’re sure you’ve hired good people and trust them at work, you need to trust them to work remotely too.
Of course, if you suspect that an employee is underperforming, it is vital to address it. However, before jumping the gun and making assumptions, reach out to them to ask how they are going. For instance, they may have suddenly found themselves in a position where they need to juggle work with home-schooling and need more flexibility. Perhaps they need a bit of help prioritising tasks or structuring their days.
Whatever the case, remember the shift to a remote workforce is probably a significant change for your employees too. There are also many factors at play. Keep these tips in mind:
Set clear expectations
Give your employees time to adjust to a new way of working
Most importantly, listen to what your employees need and try to adapt