If companies want to be future-forward, they need to accept that many of their work roles can be filled in by employees working remotely. Remote work was already gaining ground among companies and employees before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. It offered employees with a way to set right their work-life balance, and companies with a means of earning greater employee satisfaction.
The Novel Coronavirus lockdowns enforced across the world shut down offices and workplaces. Industries which had the infrastructure for allowing remote work asked employees to telecommute to work now. Surveys conducted have found that employees are more inclined towards jobs which will allow them to work out of their homes in the future.
Despite the advantages offered by remote work, there are a handful of drawbacks to the practice too. For example, if an employee isn’t working as desired, the manager cannot simply call them in to their office for a “chat”. Workplace productivity can suffer if your company does not have set remote work policies and your managers haven’t undergone necessary training to manage remote workers.
If your company didn’t have policies to regulate remote work pre-pandemic, your managers might struggle with employee engagement and productivity. Not to worry, these research-backed remote work management tips should come in handy –
1. Make it a practice to check up on your employees daily
Managers will benefit from structuring a daily check-in system with employees. It will allow your employees to share their grievances with you and feel heard.
You can schedule a one-on-one call with each employee or simply ask everyone to hop on to a team call if it’s a more collaborative workspace. Make these calls a regular part of your remote work operations and use them as a forum for discussion and clarification.
2. Use a variety of communicative and collaborative technology
Remote work is enabled primarily by the rich communication technology available to us today. Don’t restrict yourself to e-mail interactions for work communication. Use platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Weje online whiteboard for time-sensitive communication and video conferencing tools like Zoom and Skype when the conversation can benefit from visual cues.
Also, you need to consider to use CRM to manage your customers and find ways to keep them happy (and buy more from you!) Today, picking a CRM solution is easier than ever, as there are plenty to choose from, depending on your business needs.
Make sure your organization’s IT team can ensure privacy for the data and information you exchange over these tools before you begin using them.
3. Set rules specifying how communication ought to take place
In other words, set rules of engagement for your company employees to adhere to, for improved interactions. Let them know about the appropriate means, frequency and timing of communicating with you.
You can inform them about which platform to use if they must contact you urgently and which platform to otherwise rely on, for messages which aren’t as high-priority. It is also a good idea to make your employees aware of the time duration in which you are available for receiving and responding to their communication.
4. Enable non-work conversations
Any manager worth his/her salt knows how essential water-cooler conversations at the workplace can be. Employees need to take a break from work sometimes and just indulge in informal conversations with their co-workers. It helps them relieve stress and work with renewed vigor. Managers can provide for remote social interaction opportunities by organizing virtual events over video-conferencing.
Remote work can often feel isolating and facilitating these opportunities for social interaction at work helps foster a sense of belonging and well-being among your employees. Send your employees care packages and organize a virtual office party where you ask them to collectively open these packages on video. It will offer your employees the downtime to enjoy a non-work moment at work with their peers, just like an in-person coffee break.
5. Extend emotional support
In-office workers who are abruptly asked to telecommute to work might experience a roller-coaster of emotions. While this can’t be helped, you can always lend much-needed emotional support to your employees as their manager. Provide them with a patient and compassionate listening and encourage them to share their anxieties and stresses with you. Even if an employee doesn’t outright share their concerns with you, check up on them all the same.
The times are tough, and everybody struggles, even if they don’t proactively reach out for support.
6. Be empathetic and don’t resort to micro-managing
Your employee might not readily have the necessary tools to enable the communicative tech platforms you have decided to use for facilitating workplace communications remotely. In such situations, you have to allow them to use an alternative platform which is convenient for the both of you.
Additionally, don’t give in to the temptation of micro-managing your employees. Even if they are not meeting the set performance objectives right away, respect their commitment to work and let the crisis dissolve a little before bringing them to task for it. Hauling them up for ineffective work now will only stress them out further and hamper the quality of their future work.
7. Don’t let your own stress show
As a manager, your employees look up to you for cues on how to react to a situation. If you react negatively and let your stress show, they will feel stressed and helpless too. Workplaces tend to be subject to this “trickle-down” effect. However, if you learn to manage your stress and adopt an optimistic attitude towards workplace problems, your employees will feel inspired and motivated to act and behave in the same way.
You’ve Got This!
Managers who are having to oversee remote workers for the first time need to believe in themselves. You may no longer have the possibility of engaging in in-person face-to-face interactions that you are used to, but virtual communications technology can help you have the same conversations with your employees remotely.
Give yourself and your employees the time to adjust to all the new changes being effected at your workplace. You will soon notice that communicating with and managing your workers remotely no longer throws up any major issues.
Once you have all fallen into a mutually-agreed-upon rhythm, remote work too, will get completed as seamlessly as work in the office used to be.