With the emergence of the novel coronavirus, many employers have asked staff members to work from home. Before the virus, around a quarter of the workforce worked remotely. Now, many more employees and managers are working from home for the first time.
In this new environment, there are several practices that you can deploy to create an effective and productive culture for remote workers.
Here is how you can take advantage of remote management best practices to create an effective remote work culture.
Understand the New Demands in the New Normal
Many companies had little to no time to establish remote work policies, deploy technology, or retrain workers as the pandemic took shape. Nevertheless, businesses are quickly learning how to make the most of their newly remote workforce.
The change has been difficult for some companies. It can prove challenging to move a workflow out of the office, especially on short notice and with no preparation.
For managers, it’s essential to stay in touch with remote employees. For example, regular check-ins are a must because Employees who work from home can feel isolated. They may also feel as though their supervisor is out of touch with their needs.
Daily check-ins can help employees overcome isolation and feel supported by management.
You should also think about establishing working hours. Remote workers are more likely to overwork. For instance, someone who works from home may feel compelled to answer an email, even if it arrives after hours or on the weekend.
Some managers may worry that remote workers will spend too much time managing their personal affairs. However, this typically isn’t the case because, in a sense, employees who work from home are always on the job. Studies have found that productivity increases up to 27 percent when workers function remotely.
It’s also essential to monitor the emotional health of your remote team. For instance, a remote happy hour or cyber lunch date is a great way to boost morale. You have a team: how motivated they are, how well you meet their needs, how clear you are for what is expected, and how well you give them a feeling of being valued and connected will show up in the work they do.
Invest in Reliable Digital Tools
When managing remote workers, set the expectation that they are to remain accessible to you and other team members. Let them know that it’s still important to monitor work communications channels, such as email, chat, or their phones. However, give them leeway, they are managing much more than just your phones while at home. Treat them like adults and let them know that you know there will be times when they can’t respond like normal but you trust them to do the right thing and work out how to do what’s needed. For example, let them know it is OK to work out an informal group solution to keep things flowing when one of the team has to be out for a bit.
People value having flexibility and control.
People value having flexibility and control. Give it to them. The sense of obligation they have will not disappoint you. If someone is abusing the privilege, deal with that as an individual issue.Because employees are not in a physical office together, they must broadcast their availability. For instance, they can share their calendar and offer more transparency.
Doing this means going beyond simply marking timeslots as busy when they are unavailable. Workers should provide some indication of their activities on their calendars.
Let your team know what they need to accomplish by when. Tell them you know you trust them to get the work done like the adults they are. Collect what is needed to monitor productivity and encourage improvement. As Brian Tracy put it, “Inspect what you expect.”
It’s also essential to make sure that everybody’s available at the same time to facilitate collaboration. Make this as flexible as you can. Sometimes, it’s “Be available between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., I leave it up to you to do what’s needed and plan your workday accordingly.”
Digital tools can help remote workers do just that.
Be aware of the new technologies available to you, they can help you stay online with your staff members and facilitate communications, camaraderie, and coordination.
For instance, tools like Trello come with functions such as drag-and-drop, tagging, and color-coding. The project management tool enables you to view deadlines in a convenient calendar format.
Also, Slack is a must-have real-time communication tool. It’s user-friendly and enables the perfect mix of professional and personal communication. If your team spans continents, WhatsApp is a great free tool for international communication.
Zoom video conferencing and meetings are now a staple of almost all businesses; you need to be using Zoom or a similar tool in your business. It’s more flexible than you can imagine. We just held a 4-day video annual conference for 160 members of our team and it worked very well.
Here is a great tip, hold a TGIF virtual happy hour with everyone.
Here is a great tip, hold a TGIF virtual happy hour with everyone. If you have a lot of people, use Zoom Rooms to split up into several groups and rotate people among the groups. It’s amazing how well that works to keep people in touch and feeling like they are part of the company even though they may be thousands of miles apart.
Create Effective Communication Channels
The culture of remote workers derives from the mechanisms that you put in place to support them. Most people do like to work independently; however, they also need a sense of camaraderie. Additionally, it can sometimes prove challenging to troubleshoot problems alone.
As a business leader, it’s essential to keep your team engaged and working together. These are the biggest challenges facing businesses in the new normal.
As a business leader, it’s essential to keep your team engaged and working together. These are the biggest challenges facing businesses in the new normal.Communication is the foundation of team cohesiveness. It will help you and your team keep your goals aligned.
It’s vital that you schedule daily huddles and establish your expectations early on. However, avoid micromanaging as you embrace new technology.
During your digital meetups, it’s essential to address all business-related issues. However, employees should have the freedom to bond and make water cooler banter. By giving workers leeway during business meetings, you can give them the feeling that they are in the office.
Keep in mind that your team’s under a lot of pressure while learning to work in a new environment. Now is the time to practice flexibility.
Give them extra lead time. By giving workers time to adjust to a new work environment, you can keep corporate culture and morale alive.
Choosing the Right Tools to Support the Troops
In the modern workplace, micromanagement is a demoralizer, effectiveness, and efficiency killer. The same applies to the remote work environment.
Today, organizations are distributing essential responsibilities more evenly among workers. Now, the result is more important than the method.
Smart companies are teaching a growing number of managers how to use coaching as a leadership method.
Teleconferencing and videoconferencing work well for coaching remote employees. One communication channel isn’t better than the other, but they are different.
It’s essential to take note of what communication vehicles work best with certain employees. Figuring this out will take some experimentation, however.
You Set the Stage for Remote Management Success
In these days of sudden changes, employees look to remote management for leadership. You must acknowledge workers’ worries and provide them with positive affirmations. In this trying time – or any time for that matter – positive language can go a long way toward helping remote workers focus and find their purpose.
Are you a leader who is trying to figure out how to manage remote workers?
If so, it may prove difficult to find timely answers. We are experts at improving leadership, manager effectiveness, and employee engagement and productivity. Want to explore further? Questions? Get in touch and let’s set up a time to talk.