Due to the uncertainties presented by the current Coronavirus Pandemic, many companies have resorted to working remotely. In fact, more than a quarter of the U.S. workforce has been working from home, with new policies requiring employees and managers to work apart for the first time.
The sudden introduction of remote work left many companies unprepared. Especially in terms of implementing remote-working policies, providing training, and other essential measures to facilitate seamless working from home. Fortunately, managers can take advantage of the following research-based tips to support and improve their remote teams.
Scheduled status meetings, lunchtime chitchats, and unscheduled drop-ins naturally create enough face time with employees when working in a physical office. Maintaining a connection with your employees in person is empowering, and it ensures that your staff is heard and seen. Without this, people working remotely can feel adrift, which may affect productivity.
The majority of successful managers running remote teams establish daily calls with their remote workers. This could be in the form of one-on-one calls for employees who work independently or team calls for highly collaborative teams. Regardless, your calls should be regular and predictable. Creating a platform where your employees can consult, and are able to raise questions and concerns.
Communication is probably one of the major challenges of working from home. While emails and telephone calls come in handy, they are just tipping points for connecting with your remote workers. To support your team sufficiently, leverage various forms of communication technology. This includes but is not limited to Zoom web-conferencing, Google hangouts, instant messaging applications like Basecamp and Slack, document sharing apps like Dropbox and Google Drive, and many more. You can even take it one step further and choose the right business information management tool that helps keep your team running smoothly by unifying your information across all resources.
Using multiple communication channels provides a better connection with your team. Video, for instance, is better in discussing sensitive topics that require additional visual and emotional cues that are often lost in voice calls. Videos also enhance the team’s ability to acquire new information. Messaging applications, such as Slack, are best for casual discussions.
According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, increased flexibility brought by working from home does not necessarily translate to a balanced life. As such, you should stress to your remote employees the importance of valuing their social interactions and disconnecting after a workday. If possible, uphold the same office hours or working hours to provide ample time for your remote teams to interact with their friends and family members.
That aside, you should provide opportunities for social interaction among your remote team. These include the informal conversations that workers in a physical workspace often engage in during off-peak periods. The best way to facilitate this is by allowing some time before the team calls for non-work related items. Allow some minutes at the beginning of the call for employees to catch up with each other. This helps in maintaining your company culture, even as workers are physically distant.
With the abrupt shift to remote work, managers should acknowledge the stress that comes with changing work schedules. Such as the added anxieties, concerns, and try to empathize with their struggles. For instance, if your newly turned remote employee has issues with communication, provide as much assistance to help them cope with ease. There are also other actions you can take, such as giving home care packages. It's a little pampering that can easily boost your employee's morale.
Workers also often look up to their managers for cues on how to react to sudden situations or crises. As a manager, if you communicate with stress and helplessness, expect a tricking down effect on your employees.
The surge in need to work from home is unavoidable. Working remotely provides several benefits to employees, including better flexibility, saves time, and creates opportunities for introverted individuals to shine. However, it comes with several challenges, including issues with communication, limited information, social isolation, and minimal supervision. Companies should consider the tips mentioned above to support their employees during this period.
Looking for help? Tired and believing there has got to be a better way?
Let’s talk about your business. With over a decade of experience leading companies and transforming lives, and a Master’s degree in Org. Development and Leadership, Mike can help you find the best way forward!