Tips & Best Practices for Managing Remote Workers
It can be difficult to manage a remote team in a best-case scenario, like when there has been a strategically built, formalized program put in place. Managing remote workers during a public health emergency via a quickly launched remote work program can present even more challenges.
Here is a list of tips and best practices for managing your remote team during this uncertain time:
Communicate clearly and often.
Stay aware of miscommunications and other issues that can arise from a lack of non-verbal cues and face-to-face interaction. Be intentional, deliberate, and inclusive when communicating with off-site teams to make sure everyone is kept informed and updated the same way they are when working from the office.
Make it easy for employees to reach you and eliminate any roadblocks that may isolate you from your team. Clarify the hours in which you will be working and available. Since employees cannot physically see you, it must be clear to them when and how they can contact you.
Maintain a regular meeting schedule and use video conferencing whenever possible.
Meetings that took place in an in-office environment should continue, especially team check-ins and 1:1 meetings with direct reports. Utilize video conferencing programs whenever possible to “virtually replicate” and carry over the benefits of true face-to-face meetings.
Make (strategic) use of SaaS products and other technologies.
There are many collaboration tools on the market (i.e. Slack, etc.) that can increase employee engagement and productivity. Use these tools to your advantage to ease communication and increase connectivity. However, do not rely exclusively on online chat tools as a means to stay in touch, and employ video conferencing as much as possible to simulate an office environment.
Set performance standards and accountability measures.
Employees working remotely for the first time may have an initial reduction in productivity, and it is critical that managers understand that there may be an initial dip in output. However, employees should continue to work towards achieving goals and strive to maintain performance standards set for them.
Increased accountability measures should be considered, including asking employees to complete status reports, increase time sheet detail, and increase their level of upward communication to their managers during remote work periods.
Watch for signs of isolation, loneliness, or indicators of a deterioration in employee mental health and well-being.
Lack of in-person interaction can lead to employee isolation and loneliness. Pair this with the other stressors of both the pandemic and other social unrest, and it is no wonder that many Americans are say they are facing a mental health crisis.
Stay ahead of these issues and look for signs that employees may be headed in this direction. Utilize all the tools at your disposal to try to mimic in-person interactions that go far to keep employees engaged and psychologically healthy.
Recognize additional challenges employees face working remotely during a public health crisis.
Working remotely during a crisis situation presents unique challenges and an increased level of distraction. Many employees may be balancing childcare with work-related responsibilities, and many parents may be stressed due to uncertainties tied to school re-openings and hybrid learning models.
It is recommended that managers practice compassion, empathy, and flexibility as a means to encourage employee engagement, productivity, and loyalty during this uncertain time.
Remote work is here to stay, so optimize your programs now.
As COVID-19 continues to plague our communities and states struggle to keep their economies open, one thing is certain. Remote work programs are going to be relied upon as critical business continuity tools for the foreseeable future, and we encourage organizations to optimize programs now to ensure you get the best from your teams and are supporting them as completely as possible.
If you need help creating a remote work program or optimizing the program you already have in place, we can help. Contact us at info@OperationsInc.com or (800) 307-5513.