The number of remote workers has been on the rise for years, with 4.3 million people in the US working remotely at least half the time. Today, many companies rushed to have employees work from home due to COVID-19, and many are now restructuring policies to allow employees to work remotely post-pandemic. Remote work has many benefits, but it is still important to acknowledge and address the challenges as well. Here are some helpful tips:
1) Set Clear Expectations
Your employees may not be in the same location anymore, but it’s more important than ever to make sure that they’re on the same page. Let your remote workers know if and how they should track their time, how often to touch base, and when you need them to be available. By clarifying these expectations, your team will work much more efficiently.
2) Communicate More
Great communication skills are necessary if you want to succeed as a manager, especially when managing remote workers. Even if it seems like over-communication, the repetition and clarifications will ensure that the entire team receives the right messages.
3) Use Effective Collaboration Tools
Emails and text messages usually do their job, but now that everyone is working remotely, it is important to invest in tools that enhance collaboration and communication. Depending on your team, either videoconferencing or real-time chat channels may be more conducive to workflow, but either one is better than solely using traditional communication methods.
4) Accommodate Flexible Schedules
Now that your team is remote, its even more impossible to manage every aspect of their activity. Especially with all the complications that come with the current pandemic – spouses and roommates also working from home, homeschooling children – it’s even more important that flexible schedules are accommodated. By focusing on outcomes, rather than micromanaging activity, you will promote a healthier team culture.
5) Prioritize Regular Feedback and Team Meetings
With your team scattered, it’s now impossible to have spontaneous discussions that often result in great feedback. Instead, scheduled team meetings and one on ones should be a priority for everyone involved. This will allow your team to create the most productive environment possible and ensures that everyone is always up to date on the latest information.
6) Organize Team Building Activities
In addition to work-related team meetings, team building exercises can be incredibly beneficial as well. Working from home in even the best conditions can still result in feelings of isolation or loneliness, and this is magnified by social distancing. Events like virtual pizza parties, happy hours and office parties can substitute for the casual conversations that take place naturally in an office and foster better interpersonal relationships.
7) Implement an “Open Door” Policy
Now that your employees can no longer look over at your office or your desk to see if they can pop in for a quick discussion, many questions remain unasked and unanswered. To combat this lack of communication, many managers have established “open-door” policies. However, this still doesn’t clarify exactly when you are free – one way to combat this is to specify when you have time for these discussions. Take a page from college professors and create your own version of “office hours” – a few hours a week where your main priority is answering any questions and communicating with your team.