The COVID-19 pandemic continues to push more employees to remote work. Because many business owners and managers did not previously have remote workers, they found themselves floundering with the switch. If this sounds like you and still struggle to manage from a distance, you’re not alone. Take a breather, and think about your management strategy and how you need to adapt to meet the evolving challenges your employees face daily.
Enforcing Time Management
Now that you can’t glance around the office to see if employees are on task, you’ll want to discuss time management openly and honestly. You need to set clear expectations and may consider implementing time tracking systems or procedures.
For example, you can ensure your team has access to calendars and workflow maps that help employees visualize their schedules and workload. Also, encourage your employees to set aside hours in the day for lunch breaks and meetings, so their personal and professional lives remain as separate as possible.
Enforcing time management doesn’t mean you can’t show flexibility. Make it clear to all team members that you’re willing to work with their schedules, especially if their children are at home for remote schooling.
Quick and Clear Communication
It can be easy to bog down your schedule with daily team meetings and regular one-on-one sessions. While appointments are essential, make sure you’re not overcommunicating and wasting time with unnecessary meetings that slow down your employees’ work schedule.
When you schedule meetings, set clear video call etiquette and expectations, so everyone is on the same page. In addition, consider using apps such as Monday.com, Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Asana to provide centralized communications and task management.
Try to limit your daily memos and make sure these messages are short and meaningful. Reach out to team members regularly to check-in and ask if they have questions. Be sure your staff knows you are open to feedback on how well you communicate with them and change course if needed.
Many employees want to keep their work and personal lives separate and have a difficult time adjusting to remote work. Respect your employee’s boundaries as much as possible, given the circumstances.
For example, if someone needs to turn their webcam off because a child needs attention, don’t call them out for doing so. Give workers who have children or spouses working or schooling from home the flexibility to adapt to their household’s needs.
Also, create boundaries for yourself and only communicate during agreed-upon work hours unless it’s an emergency.
Many people thrive off the energy of having a team around them. The social aspect of work is especially important to more extroverted employees who recharge by talking to coworkers.
Working from home doesn’t mean the sense of collaboration and team spirit has to disappear. If you sense the loneliness of working from home is catching up to many staffers, schedule virtual lunches or after-work social calls for anyone interested.
It’s easy for employees to become distracted during work, especially if they’re online for most of the day. If that’s the case, encourage workers to use technology as a tool rather than a distraction. For example, programs like Pomodoro technique timers can help keep employees engaged in their work while minimizing stress.
Reassessing Insurance Coverage
Many companies will also need to reassess their insurance coverage. Business owners or managers overseeing employees who are working remote should instruct team members to review their homeowners insurance policy and make sure they have coverage for damage that occurs while working at home. Going the extra mile and reaching out to employees about this contingency will demonstrate your commitment to their wellbeing, even from afar.
Depending on your line of work, you may also want to upgrade your company’s general liability insurance and cyber insurance policies.
Showing Up for Your Remote Employees
Remote working can be difficult for both you and your employees. Make sure you communicate clearly and honor work and home boundaries. Enforce agreed-upon work hours and time management strategies and tools. If you slow down and listen to your employees’ concerns related to remote work, you can come up with a plan together that preserves productivity but allows some flexibility.