Nobody asked to be here, yet here we are.
Even those of us who were on this earth for quite a while have never seen anything like this. COVID-19 has forced every working professional to reevaluate their idea of what work-life balance looks like.
With information changing by the hour, we’re all having to adjust our daily lives on the fly. I would venture to guess that as of this moment, maybe 80 to 90% of the professional workforce is working in some sort of remote manner.
That said, having been in situations in my career where I’ve had to manage employees remotely, I thought I’d provide a few tips that worked for me. Hopefully, this will be helpful:
7 Tips to Managing Your Team Remotely
1. Set Clear Communication Expectations
If you’re giving someone the freedom to work independently from home, then it’s not unreasonable to agree together that whenever you need to speak to members of your team, they’re available to you. During work hours, you should be able to call, chat, text or email them when something needs to be discussed and they should be available and ready, wherever it is or whatever they’re doing, just as if they were at work.
2. Engage Regularly
That said, engage your remote workers on a daily basis through some kind of communication. Use multiple channels to communicate. Then, plan a regularly scheduled face-to-face virtual meeting. At first, it should be daily, then determine the frequency as you all become more comfortable. This could be just an information download, or it could be a training or coaching program. This constant interaction and engagement will help remote workers feel included in an important aspect of the organization. You always want to try and make it feel inclusive.
3. Lead with Compassion
Giant deals have fallen through overnight. Large revenue-generating events canceled. People staying home and going out to spend money. Though this can be devastating for your revenue, try to take a compassionate approach when dealing with your employees. Realize they are just as stressed and freaked out as you are and if they aren’t, they probably will be short. Connect to them at that level. Everyone is searching for answers. Deal with your people as humanly and nicely as possible.”
4. Trust Your Team
Here’s a big one. Human nature kicks in when our team is out of our visual sightline. This is a big reason why many companies are not willing to embrace a remote workforce because there’s uncertainty about whether or not the work will get completed at the same level as if they were in an office. Rising above this is key to managing remote employees. Give them respect and trust that they are professional and they’ll do the job. Agree on specific, measurable things that they should be doing and delivering every week and if you’re getting the results you need, don’t need to worry as much about when, where and how they’re getting it done.
5. Use Technology To Build Community
Building a community is important to developing an engaged remote workforce. Use technology to create dedicated spaces for celebrating special days (e.g. birthdays), company milestones (e.g., months or years of service), as well as community recognition. Being intentional about creating community helps develop a corporate culture that inspires connection, which can result in increased productivity. Encourage any kind of “water cooler” interaction through whatever technology you can find. Slack(slack.com) works pretty good for some of my clients.
6. Make Sure They Have Reliable Tools
If remote employees can’t download files, struggle hearing on a conference call, and consistently receive meeting invitations for times when they are still asleep, you have failed to address the basics. First, invest in reliable tools to make collaboration possible. Then develop clear processes to use such tools.
7. Stay Focused On Goals, Not Activity
It is important to manage expectations and stay focused on goals when embracing a remote workforce. Don’t worry as much about what is being done. Instead, concentrate on what is being accomplished. If we are meeting our goals, then great. If not, we need to look into the situation further. It is all about accomplishment, not activity.
In summary, create a remote workforce atmosphere of engagement and genuine connection. Be intentional in preparing and orientating employees for the remote workforce culture. Establish clear expectations. Make each team meeting count with intentional purpose and opportunities to engage and contribute in a variety of ways.
If you have any best practices for how to navigate working remotely during these difficult times, please share. Stay safe out there!