In the face of coronavirus uncertainty, many firms have asked their employees to work from home or remotely.
According to one study, 43% of the U.S. workforce is working from home.
While most companies have remote-work policies and training in place, in times of uncertainty or other dynamic circumstances, this step might not be practical.
It is not easy for managers to handle their remote workforce.
According to one study, 71 percent of employers are finding it challenging to use telework for doing business.
Another annoying issue is the lack of face to face communication between managers and employees. Many workers, on the other hand, are struggling with minimized access to managerial support and communication.
They feel that their managers are not aware of their requirements, and thereby are neither cooperative nor supportive in getting their projects done.
For managers, it is intimidating to ensure that employees stay engaged and productive while working remotely.
But that doesn’t mean you as a manager are destined to struggle with your remote workforce.
Luckily, there are some steps that managers can take to improve the engagement and productivity of their remote employees.
Set Clear Communication:
Lack of constant communication can derail your collaboration with remote employees. After all, it is challenging for both sides to stay in touch.
The communication might be delayed for a couple of days without connecting or speaking, especially if there are no due dates or deadlines round the corner.
You being a remote manager want to interact with your remote employees-even if it is just to greet them. Setting frequent communication will help you stay in touch with your workforce.
Although email is an easy form of communication for many firms, it can seem formal and impersonal. It can also be challenging to maintain communication through email.
Enter instant messaging services such as Skype or WhatsApp.
Instant messaging services let you respond to your team quickly as well as send or receive documents. Video chat or a quick phone call supports your long discussions or meetings.
Use Collaboration Tools:
Sometimes you need more than basic communication apps to get in touch with your employees.
For example, you want to keep track of the project as well as find out who is doing what. This is where collaboration tools come in.
Collaboration tools act like your virtual workspace where you can keep everyone on the same page.
Collaboration tools ease your project management as they let you see the latest changes; notify someone for feedback, and deliver important messages across your remote team. This way, it eliminates the need of going through piles of emails.
Some popular collaboration tools like Skype facilitate your communication with email, instant messaging, calling, sharing, and video conferencing.
Create an Office in Your Home:
If you are like most remote managers, you might be working on a couch in your pajamas with a laptop. Without a formal workplace to go to each day, locating an ideal place to work in your home can be overwhelming.
Why don’t you create a home office?
Yeah, you have read it right.
A spare room or other “less distracted” spaces such as the garage, a hallway, or an attic can be used as a home office.
Working in a space away from all distractions will help you focus on your work.
Make our Team Aware of Expectations Early and Often:
Setting expectations, providing guidelines, and assessing the basics are crucial steps when managing your project.
Make sure to be available and provide clarity on milestones, goals, and more. Highlight each team member’s availability and make sure you are accessible to them when required.
Keep your workforce up to date on policies and changes and other guidelines for working remotely. Besides, the policies should be clear about after-hours work email and texts.
Providing Emotional Support:
You as a manager should acknowledge work pressure, listen to employee’s concerns and stress, and offer solutions, especially when they face abrupt shifts.
If a new remote employee is struggling but hiding his concerns, ask them how things are going for him.
Even asking their feedback on remote work situations can give you important information that you might not otherwise get. Once you ask for their feedback, make sure to listen carefully to them, and assure them of the solution from your side.
After all, the manager or team supervisor is the one an employee is likely to look for when it comes to helping with sudden changes.
Have Faith in Your Team:
Any manager needs to put their faith and confidence in their team that they will perform great; which they (team) will do if they are being provided with a supportive structure.
Managers might be bothered and even frustrated to lose the constant “sight” of their team, but don’t compensate it with excessive micromanaging. That will only convey a negative message to the already stressed remote team.
Avoid keep sticking to the perceived performance issues; you will have a plethora of time to rely on established performance management systems once the problem is resolved.
Emphasize on Outputs Not Processes:
In the remote work scenario, where your workforce might be juggling personal commitments and work in their own living spaces, let employees get their work done in ways that are simplest and most practical for them.
Make sure to schedule collaboration or meeting at a mutually convenient time, and use virtual tools wherever possible. Ensuring flexibility helps the team complete their tasks in their way.
Therefore, don’t be obsessive about the process and pay more attention to the outcome instead. Just explain to them what tasks you want them to do as well as expectations.
You can manage your remote workforce efficiently by showing empathy, using collaboration tools, motivating them, and above all, stopping micromanaging.
The point is here that you should keep all your remote workers on the same page as well as provide effective solutions. This way, you can minimize communication glitches and keep your team in high spirits.
What do you think? Let us know by commenting below!
Helen Wilson is a marketing manager at Savah. She is a keen follower of technology and loves to write about the latest trends and tips from the tech industry.