The current COVID-19 crisis has foced many employees into remote work. This change has been sudden and left little time to prepare as fully as we might normally prefer.
Luckily, there are steps that managers and leaders can take to ensure that their workers continue to be engaged and productive in their work. Here are 5 simple actions you can take today to ensure you effectively manage your team remotely with empathy and understanding.
1. Acknowledge The Challenges
Given the speed with which employees have had to adapt to remote working conditions, managers may find that some employees may initially experience a decline in performance or productivity. Common difficulties faced by employees during remote work include:
- Feelings of insufficient communication and support from managers
- Difficulty being able to access information (particularly from other workers)
- Feeling isolated and having difficulty navigating distractions at home whilst working (particularly if their spouse and children are also at home).
Being aware of these challenges can help you to better prepare and successfully manage your remote team more effectively.
2. Regular Check-Ins
An important feature to establish early on is daily communication. Whether you decide to conduct one-to-one or team calls, ensuring that you check-in with your workers each day is important. Not only does it help to ensure that everyone is on task and aware of what work needs to be completed, but it also allows you the opportunity to check how your workers are doing and coping with the situation. You can also send out daily emails at the start/end of the day to touch base with employees and give updates on tasks and projects.
Try to use video calls where possible. There are plenty of programs that you can use cheaply (for example, Skype, Zoom, Slack or Microsoft Teams). Video calls will allow your workers to feel more socially connected and also allow for non-verbal cues to be communicated.
3. Establish Expectations Early On
Ensure that you clearly establish the rules and expectations for communication during remote working. The earlier you establish this, the more successful it will be.
“Workers need to share the same expectations regarding when and how to communicate with each other and with you,” explains Gregory Brode, a tech writer at Paperfellows and OXEssays. “You may decide to establish video calls for meetings, but email for updates or non-urgent information, whilst texts or IM may be used for urgent issues. Make use of all the different technology available to ensure maximum ease of communication.”
Set out realistic and achievable goals when it comes to the work you expect employees to complete during their working hours. In this way, you help to build trust with your workers and allow them to manage their time individually to suit their varying individual needs.
4. Provide Opportunities To Socialize
It’s important to schedule in some time for your workers to socialize, particularly during this stressful period. One of the simplest ways to do this is to set aside some time at the start of a group call or meeting to catch-up with one another regarding non-work related topics. For example, you could start your Monday meeting asking everyone how their weekend was. It will help to promote a sense of belonging and will help to minimize feelings of isolation and loneliness.
5. Make it Easy for Employees to Ask for Help and Be Generous
Research shows that generosity at work is good for us, and asking for help is critical to our wellbeing and success. So make it easy for employees to exchange help. You can dedicate time in team meetings for people to ask for help or show gratitude for help they’ve received. Another option is using Givitas, a software platform created by Adam Grant and Wayne Baker that makes it incredibly easy to ask for and give help at work. It turns out that when you make it shockingly easy, people are shockingly generous.
6. Make Yourself Available
Employees need to know the best way to get in touch with you if they have a problem.
“Clearly communicate your availability, such as through your shared calendar or email, including the best time and method for employees to communicate with your during your workday. Offer a range of ways for workers to contact you. For example, offer video calls for collaboration, but messaging for less formal or time-sensitive communication,” says Karan Oliver, a HR manager at BoomEssays and Essay Help.
7. Be Prepared To Offer Support
During these difficult times, it’s important that you show your employees empathy and offer some emotional support.
- Make sure that you ask your workers how they are doing.
- Ask specifically about how they are coping with the change to remote work and make sure you listen attentively to their responses, especially if they are struggling.
- Offering one-to-one calls can be especially helpful to elicit responses from your employees and provide them with a safe space in which to discuss their concerns with you.
- If a worker has concerns or is feeling stressed, give them time to discuss this and try to put a plan in place to support them.
The sudden change to remote working can be a stressful time. Effective managers and leaders will need to acknowledge this, whilst also providing their workers with reassurance and affirming their confidence in their employees’ abilities to cope with the situation. By making these five small changes, you’ll be able to support your workers and ensure that you continue to manage your team effectively.
If you’d like to connect with other leaders who are exchanging help, advice, support, and resources, join Givitas for Leaders (it’s free).Join Givitas for Leaders
About the Author
Beatrix Potter is an experienced HR leader at Academic Writing Services and Essayroo Review writing services. She has managed remote teams for several years and has experience working remotely herself. Beatrix writes about remote work, including offering advice on how to improve productivity when working from home. She also is an online writer at Essay Services website.