Almost a quarter of the US workforce has been working from home even before the pandemic struck. Over the last few months, however, countless more have found themselves suddenly forced to work remotely, while companies haven’t had nearly enough time to develop suitable policies to accommodate the changes.
While the benefits of remote working are without doubt, there remain some drawbacks to this model. Fortunately, most of these can be mitigated with a combination of technology, process, and policy. HR teams, managers, and supervisors need to work together to ensure employees continue to get the support they need so they can stay productive and engaged through the crisis.
Here are five proven ways to better manage your remote teams:
1. Provide the right technology
Remote workers need to have the right technology if they’re to maintain high productivity. But this doesn’t just mean providing them with equipment like laptops and smartphones. For example, if you want to hold remote meetings, you’ll need to ensure they’re equipped with headsets and cameras, as well as secure connections and sufficient internet bandwidth.
Equally important to equipment is the software you provide your employees, especially if you have a BYOD policy that allows people to use their own devices for work. Cloud collaboration platforms, enterprise social networks, and company-approved instant messaging apps all help employees stay connected, which is more important than ever in times of social isolation.
2. Promote regular dialogue
On the one hand, you have traditionalist business leaders who worry that remote work might mean losing oversight of their employees. On the other, you have remote workers who don't want to be micromanaged, especially given the rising stress and uncertainty that many people now feel.
This is why dialogue has never been more important. Consistent and empathetic communication is essential for building trust and helping employees overcome the challenges they may be experiencing. After all, remote work is not ideal for everyone. It’s also important to promote regular dialogue between employees and encourage them to talk about both work and life topics.
3. Reinforce company culture
One of the major challenges of having employees work remotely is how to maintain a consistent company culture. Employees can easily end up feeling isolated and undervalued. It’s essential to promote physical and mental well-being through regular dialogue and carefully planned virtual events.
It's also crucial that employers treat their employees as key stakeholders. This will foster loyalty in employees, who will further believe in the company and the brand they’re working for. Employees will also feel confident that they’re making a positive difference, boosting their morale.
4. Define clear objectives
Given the constant disruption and confusion many organizations now face, it’s easy for role definitions to blur. When that happens, it becomes much harder for employees to know what to focus on, and productivity and efficiency take a major hit.
Rather than simply giving your employees orders, define clear objectives and remain steadfast when maintaining employee roles. One of the most effective ways to increase engagement, whether with in-house or remote teams, is to demonstrate to employees how their work aligns with and contributes to key company goals. More than ever, employees want to feel valued and be confident in the importance of their roles, hence the need to focus on objectives rather than processes.
5. Provide feedback regularly
There are a number of ways remote work managers can recognize the achievements of their remote employees, but among the most effective is having a consistent way of giving feedback. Feedback should always be personalized, specific, prompt and, above all, empathetic. If the feedback is corrective, it should be given confidentially through the appropriate channel.
Asking for feedback is just as important as giving it. Remote work feedback forms and other systems can provide valuable insights into the needs and preferences of your employees. Your staff will also appreciate the opportunity to have their voices heard, especially given the huge importance of dialogue in these uncertain times.
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