Remote working has exploded since the Covid pandemic spread around the world and now almost 20% of the workforce has experienced working from home.
The benefits for employees include the flexibility to work around other commitments, times saved commuting to and from the workplace, improved health and wellbeing, and the ability to work from anywhere, meaning you don’t have to relocate to the location of the workplace.
Employers also see benefits. In many cases, productivity and performance have increased while overhead costs have decreased, they can access a wider talent pool, and they have experienced improvements in employee retention.
However, remote work is not without its challenges, these can include employees feeling isolated from their work colleagues, gaps in communication, difficulty staying motivated, distractions in the home, difficulties switching off from work, and managing the work team can be more difficult.
Supporting Remote Employees
Managers need to be aware that different employees will have different needs. They will need to adapt their strategies depending on the specific needs of each employee.
Regular check-ins provide accountability and also your availability to provide guidance. Remember to offer encouragement and emotional support. Keep a lookout for any changes in communication or work output that may indicate they are having difficulties.
When some employees are working remotely and others are 100% in the office, it is easy to exclude remote workers from team meetings and social events. Ensure they are included and remain part of any appropriate decision-making.
Keep your expectations of remote workers flexible. Unlike those working in the workplace, your remote workers don’t have to get everything done during work hours unless there is some specific deadline. If they are getting their work done, it doesn’t matter if their work schedule differs from normal office hours.
Be sure to create some rules of engagement. Ask your remote workers when and how they want to be contacted, and ensure they know how they can contact you and other team members.
Most importantly, encourage a sense of belonging. Creating team spirit can be more difficult when you don’t physically see some of your staff regularly. You will have to think of some innovative ways to create a feeling of mutual trust and respect for everyone in the team. Simple things like starting team meetings with a quiz or an icebreaker exercise help all team members get to know each other better and build team spirit.
Managing Remote Teams
When your entire team is working remotely you need to ensure the success, productivity, and efficiency of the entire team.
Set clear expectations so every team member knows what is expected of them. This includes clear communication expectations like where and how to communicate with each other and how quickly to respond to emails.
You will need to take each member’s different work schedules into account. You should set up a weekly reporting system so that you can monitor the completion of tasks to evaluate productivity and if any members are struggling with their workload. Make sure any time frames and deadlines are achievable.
To avoid any feelings of isolation, schedule group meetings at a time when everyone is available. Delegate responsibilities evenly across your team but based on who is best suited to each task.
Finally, ask for feedback. This will encourage them to speak out about things they don’t think are working or things they need support with. It can show them that you care and that their voice matters.
If your business is struggling with the management of remote workers Corporate Business Solutions Inc. can provide consulting services.