Once COVID-19 hit the U.S on March 27th, at least 16 million employees began working remotely.
With plenty of the workforce clocking-in at home, managers have had to discover alternative ways to lead their team.
If managing employees remotely has you feeling stressed out, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know.
Tips For Managing Remote Employees
If you’re unsure how to manage remote teams, consider these tips to make it easier for your employees to work from home. For instance:
1. Have Longer One-On-One Sessions
Having a daily check-in with your remote employees is crucial especially now you can’t build rapport with your employees in-person.
There are now fresh challenges that employees face so it’s important to have a digital “open door policy” by finding new ways to communicate. Phone conversations, email, and Slack are useful but try to use video-based platforms as they best replicate in-person interaction.
Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom are all easy-to-use and inexpensive. If you have connectivity problems, fix them by asking your company to cover the cost of better internet or ask employees if they can go somewhere with a better connection.
During your daily check-ins, you should ask questions to see how they’re doing. For example:
- How could I better support remote staff like yourself?
- What’s your morning routine like now that you don’t have to go into work?
- How are you planning to stay connected with the rest of the team?
These questions will glean how your remote team is coping work-wise in the pandemic. Give them the chance to offer feedback so you can make their lives easier working from home.
Avoid canceling one-on-ones because it’s easy for remote employees to miss out on crucial information that’s usually spread throughout the office. If you must, reschedule instead.
2. Make Whiteboarding Remote-Friendly
When managing remote workers, you’ll find it’s challenging to collaborate and brainstorm as a team.
Harness the power of digital tools for whiteboarding so your employees can do so remotely. Mural, Miro, Parabol, and Google Docs are fantastic for this.
These tools make it easier for your remote employees to continue to innovate and have a seamless workflow like they would in the office.
You can also use a JSA builder to manage your Job Safety Analysis (JSA), if interested you can read more about it.
3. Create a Remote Handbook
In 2020, we’re spoiled with apps and tools to help businesses run smoothly even when you’re out-of-office.
But it’s important to document culture first and use tools to support productivity. Although it takes more time upfront, create a guidebook covering the most popular queries so remote workers can turn to it whenever they need help.
4. Offer Encouragement and Emotional Support
Because we’re in a stressful and unpredictable time, it’s crucial to acknowledge your employee’s anxieties, concerns, and empathize with anything they’re struggling with.
Ask them how they’re coping and let their concerns be the focus on the conversation. As a manager, you should research on emotional intelligence to ensure you’re not communicating stress or helplessness as it will affect your team.
Use positive terms like “we’ve got this” or “this is a stressful situation but I know we can get through it”. When you’re in a light-hearted mood, employees will be more upbeat and feel less anxious about the current situation.
5. Help Employees Fight Cabin Fever and Isolation
In normal circumstances, remote workers can divide their time between home and coffee shops but now, we’re all stuck in one place.
It’s a no-brainer that lockdown comes with many negative consequences, so encourage your team to take a daily walk to get fresh air. Not only does this have cardiovascular benefits, but it encourages employees to get a change of scenery without risk of infection.
For instance, if there’s a call that doesn’t require video, encourage them to take it outside while practicing social distancing.
6. Make Sure Employees Have an Effective Work Space
Employees may not have a designated study or workspace at home. If your company has the budget, give employees resources so they can create a quiet place to get work done.
This is especially crucial if they live in a small apartment or have a significant other who’s also in quarantine with them, as there may not be enough space for two workplaces.
7. Focus on Outcomes Not Activity
Don’t try to manage every tiny aspect of your team’s work especially when they’re scattered across various locations. Instead of focusing on the hours, pay attention to the outcomes, and measure your team’s productivity that way.
8. Have Organized But Optional Meetings
Whether it’s online or offline, 67% of workers say spending too much time in meetings distracts them from doing their job.
Strive to make meetings optional especially if you could cover most of the points in an email. Also, as a manager, you must take time-zone differences into consideration which can be difficult.
Record all meetings so those unable to attend can catch up and stay in the loop.
9. Reinforce Company Values
Company culture and its values are the lifeblood of any business and you should encourage employees to uphold these remotely.
Craft a document that is inspirational, clear, and well-written so your team can grasp what your culture is.
You should write about your business’s expectations, how you measure company performance, and how you assess employees for cultural fit.
Those Are Our Tips For Managing Remote Employees
Managing remote employees has never been easier thanks to video software and whiteboard apps.
Check-in with your employees daily during work hours, make meetings optional, and focus on your employee’s outcomes rather than how many hours they put in.
Remember, your team’s well-being is vital especially during these stressful times so always take this into consideration. Did you find this article helpful? If so, check out our posts filled with tips on everything from blogging to web development.