In response to COVID-19, many companies have employees who are working from home. Although it would have been preferable to establish remote-working policies and training in advance, it was just not feasible, all things considered. Luckily, the resilience and flexibility of employees has shone through, but how has management dealt with this ‘new normal’? After all, it can be difficult for many managers to come to grips with managing their newfound remote workers. They may feel they have no guidance over teams or find that establishing a flow of communication with a remote employee a challenge.
Yet, it is the way of the world right now and by all accounts, the future of the workplace. Managers need to adapt to make the current situation succeed for their workers and themselves. To give managers some guidance, here are some tips to embrace and better manage your newfound remote workers.
Build a ‘Team Culture.’
When managing remote workers, it is necessary to have a clear vision of the culture you want to achieve. An ideal culture with your team is one that is collaborative, highly functioning and communicative. Managers who can build this sense of culture will improve the quality, productivity and engagement of their remote employees and their work. It can be done through a system of feedback, reward and recognition. Providing regular feedback, or simply saying ‘good job’, is a great place to start.
To manage your remote employees, you must communicate with them regularly – if not daily. You may also need to use various communication methods, such as email, video chat, phone calls, etc. Using various communications for different tasks will avoid miscommunicating meaning, context and intent. It can clear up questions or misconceptions quickly, though it is necessary to keep communication simple and natural.
However, do not forget to engage in ‘small talk’ with your employees to demonstrate that you care about them on a personable level outside of the work realm. When working with remote employees, it is easy to forget about the human element of management. As is often the situation when in conversation with a remote worker, you will be talking through essential details, plan and leave the call with a to-do list. This isn’t a bad thing and is an integral part of running a business, however, if that is what every call consists of you are missing out on the essential element of management – knowing and understanding the individual, not just their work.
Expect Accountability and Trust
It is vital to expect accountability as it sets a clear expectation for remote employees but also establishes a level of trust in your employee to complete their work without micro-management. To build these expectations, you may consider writing work-from-home policies as a guideline, for example, email response times, allowability of text messaging in urgent issues, and such.
As a manager, it is worthwhile considering these best practices to ensure you are managing your employees effectively and achieving the most from them.
Continually Set Goals
As an employee, it’s critical to have some defining goals, to ascertain and communicate what it is you’re all working towards accomplishing. After all, completing an extensive workload goes far beyond just performing tasks and checking them off the list – it’s part of a bigger picture.
It is particularly relevant when managing remote employees who don’t have the in-office experience of seeing the company develop, hearing news or seeing goals achieved. Therefore, setting regular goals and reviewing progress provides a strong motivational force in achieving overall company aims and realising how their work has contributed towards that. In tandem to this, formalising goals provides a reliable tool to ensure remote workers are performing as expected and required by the business.
Finally recognising achievements and rewarding good performance is an essential aspect of managing remote employees. Since remote workers do not have the benefit of co-worker conversations where they might receive praise, or receive appreciation from management in real-time, acknowledging exceptional work is a great way to ensure remote workers are continually engaged in the company successes. Our previous blog, Employee Reward Systems – The Do’s and Don’ts, will provide some structure on how best to approach employee rewards if this is how you choose to recognise employee achievements.
While all these tips can be a guide to manage your newfound remote workers better, it is also essential to have the right technology in place. The emerging trend of hosted, mobile and web-based technology are driving the trend of working from home in the future of work.