Tips for Managing Remote Workers

by Jody Ordioni

Tips for Managing Remote Workers

In the wake of coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended companies to employ strategies for 'social containment'. Therefore, to protect employees from contracting the virus, many businesses are switching to telework (i.e. working from home). If this is your first time shifting to remote work culture, here are some tips that might come in handy:

Set Expectations

As a team leader of a remote team, it is better to set a few expectations. You need to define three agreements clearly. Employees feel far from each other when working remotely because of the delay it takes to get answers rather than the actual physical distance. Predictable communication makes employees feel more at ease. Thus, managers need to clearly convey basic rules for remote workers. It is important to define the work hours for the team working remotely.

Frequency of communication should also be established clearly, such as the expected time to get a reply on any internal email and whether phone calls are to be made in cases of emergency. More than being available, unavailability has to be accounted for. Decide who should be the contact person if someone is unable to get an answer to their query.

Establishing Clear Channels of Communication

Communication drives the team forward, and this is especially true when the team is working remotely. A proper structure to communicate efficiently has to be put in place. Weekly one-on-one meetings can be designated to every direct report, which allows times for questions and giving feedback on the work done.

A weekly action review can be a good method for everyone to sync up on the work done throughout the week. In addition to this, end-of-the-day check-ins can be used to keep tabs on the daily progress of each employee and can be done through emails.

Video-First Culture

A technique that is highly useful to remote workers is the video-first culture. It is an organizational strategy that emphasizes on using videoconferencing rather than being dependent on audio-only conference calls. There are many benefits to switching to this method while working remotely. Firstly, using and understanding non-verbal cues is possible, which leads to a nuanced understanding of the conversation.

Secondly, it ensures that people are actually participating in the conversation rather than just muting. Lastly, it forces people to get dressed in the morning and establishes the normalcy of a schedule, even if the physical environment of the office is not present.

Focus on Interpersonal Relationship

Relationships at work are integral to high performing teams. Workplace friendships directly impact the level of employee engagement. Moreover, cordial relations reduce time-consuming conflicts that only lend to unproductivity. Remote teams can also enjoy some off-time together. The first few minutes of scheduled calls can be utilized to make small talk.

Managers can ask employees how their weekend has been. Create a separate space wherein employees can talk about sports, books, or even share photos of their pets. Do not forget to acknowledge and appreciate your employees. Share positive feedback from the clients and customers with the whole team to raise their spirits.

Make Use of Technology

Any business can function well in a work-from-home situation since it is not unlike an employee taking a vacation or sick leave. However, if employees are expected to maintain the same level of productivity for an extended period, then you have to assist in the form of hardware and software tools. Basics such as a good internet connection, a computer or a laptop, and if possible, a workstation should be provided. Low-cost software for videoconferencing such as Skype or Zoom is a good option. Also, consider including project management software to ensure a seamless transition from office to remote working.

Take Account of Personalities of Employees

Successful leaders ensure that they divide their time equally amongst all employees to get to know what motivates and challenges each individual. Many behavioral assessment tools can help you to understand your employees and respond to their requirements. For example, Everything DiSC is one such assessment tool that categorizes employees into three types.

One type is the Influence or Steadiness style, who are more social than their co-workers and require the daily interaction of the office. The other is the Dominant type who might not be as social but still require the structure of the office to be productive enough. The last is the Conscientious type who can transition easily. The responsibility of a manager is to respond to the needs of each.

The Bottom Line

Though there are many difficulties while working remotely, one benefit is that the companies are following the trend that is most lucrative to employees. 80% of employees have shown interest in companies that allow them flexibility while working than those that do not. Employers, in the long-term, would know how to manage employees remotely and successfully.

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