- Posted by admin
- On May 18, 2020
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Most businesses with the ability to allow employees to work at home are currently doing so in response to stay-at-home and social distancing orders. Time magazine has called Coronavirus “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment,” which begs the question, how is the experiment going at your company?
Remote work was not unheard of before COVID-19 hit; Gallup’s State of the American Workforce projected that before this time, 43% of workers were already working remotely, at least part time. Coronavirus did, however, force the remote workforce to increase.
Working from home presents different challenges and different benefits compared to office life. Since many of us have been thrust into remote work, there have been plenty of tips for working at home and staying productive. As a manager, however, how do you ensure that your employees are doing well at home, both in their work and their mindset? Use these tips to manage remote employees.
How To Manage Remote Workers:
- Set Expectations
- Understand Individual Needs
- Prioritize Communication
- Use Remote Tools
- Build Remote Culture
One of the most important elements of managing remote teams is defining expectations. Working at home can be difficult for some employees who may struggle to stay on-task or have extra distractions at home, like children to care for. As a manager, it’s important to set clear expectations for how and when work should be done. Set deadlines if necessary, or make it clear how much output is expected day-to-day or weekly.
If you don’t set expectations, it’s possible that remote workers may slow down their productivity. This doesn’t necessarily happen on purpose – remote work is difficult, and without checks and balances, anyone can slip up. That’s why it’s best to define expectations early and maintain them with regular communication.
Understand Individual Needs
While setting expectations is important, it’s also important to listen and understand your employees’ needs while working from home. Every person is different, and some thrive in remote settings while others struggle. Create team policies, but apply them with an understanding of each individual and their work style.
Some employees may feel isolated working at home. Others may have children at home that they need to care for, which can understandably lower productivity. Some employees may be early risers who complete their work early in the day.
If you’re not sure about individual employees’ challenges and preferences, ask them! Find out what they like about remote work, where they struggle, and how they prefer to get work done at home. Try to accept and accommodate their preferences so that you can find the best WFH solution for everyone.
Remote work isn’t for everyone, but when it’s necessary due to social distancing orders, you’ll have to be accommodating. If you choose to continue remote work post-COVID, check in with how your teams feel about that. Some may be thrilled, while others may prefer on-site work and express so. If you’re considering remote work as a full-time solution in the future, be sure to discuss with your team members first. You don’t want to lose your best employees due to a shift in company policy.
The biggest challenge to managing remote teams is the lack of communication. Communication is still possible, of course, but you lose the ease of in-person meetings or stopping by someone’s cubicle for a quick question. When managing remote employees, you need to prioritize communication to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Hold meetings as often as possible, ideally over video. While it’s easy to send an email or message, you lose the context of tone, facial expression, and body language. Virtual meetings can help improve communication and are more engaging.
Try to hold one-on-one meetings with individual team members, ideally weekly or bi-weekly. This may be difficult depending on the size of your team, so create a schedule that works for your business. Employees may feel more comfortable discussing their work and challenges of working at home one on one, and this makes it easier to gauge their performance and how they’re adapting to remote work.
Use Remote Tools
You’ll need the right tools to manage remote teams and to help them succeed at home. Most businesses have started using Zoom for video calls and messaging tools like Slack for quick messages.
Make sure you have tools for communication, online access to documents, and more. If remote workers need support, you may need to supply hardware like laptops as well. Consider tools for cloud services, password sharing, online brainstorming tools like Mural, online signature tools, and more.
Build Remote Culture
Culture is another point that many companies lose without an office and in-person communication. Many of the perks that build culture in a workplace, like weekly happy hour, office Olympics, and others are lost due to remote work conditions. It’s important to build a remote culture despite these obstacles.
Use remote team building activities, remote happy hours or coffee breaks, and more to build a workplace culture at home. It’s important to engage with your team, not only about work tasks, but on a more human level. Company culture is one of the most important factors for candidates today, and it’s possible to create a culture even when everyone works remotely. When you’re managing remote teams of employees, maintaining a positive culture is important to create a better connection between workers and to the business itself.