Over this period of the ‘largest remote-work’ experiment, we have learned that work-from-home employees don’t just need the right tech but also the right leadership.
Whether managers were prepared or not, leading a remote team during such unrest is overwhelming and daunting. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 71% of new WFH employees find it hard to adapt to telework. And managers have been thrown in the deep end to lead these new remote working employees.
Both employees and employers have been forced to deal with multiple barriers, from lack of one-on-one supervision to social isolation, difficult information access, and numerous distractions. As a result, businesses need to be adequately prepared for a seamless transition from brick-and-mortar to a remote workforce.
Companies need to evaluate their needs, invest in the necessary technology, centralize their systems, ensure data privacy and security are maintained and set expectations early. Also, employee engagement is critical at this point to ensure the remote workforce remains productive and loyal.
Today, we’ll talk about how managers can support their employees to ease this rapid transition.
Remain calm and positive
As a leader, you are the voice of reason that your team looks up to. The pandemic has created a disruption hat no one had planned for or expected. The uncertainty is still looming. And there is so much going on.
Some employees have taken pay cuts, others have seen their colleagues/family members lose their jobs, and some have had to battle the virus or even lose loved ones along the way. All these may cause anxiety, anger, and even apathetic thinking. And it’s okay.
As a leader, you have to respond from understanding, empathy, positivity, and respect. That way, your employees will be able to remain calm and productive. Avoid criticism at all costs and put extra effort at encouraging and communicating in a level manner.
Have regular video check-ins
A lot of human communication is non-verbal. As you aren’t meeting employees in the office, you need to see some visual clues into what they are thinking. Video tells so much more than audio as you can see their mood and gauge their reaction.
Currently, we have so many free solutions for small teams. Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Google Meets, etc. Leverage on these tools.
Pay attention to your employees, and if you see anything that you think might be off, ask. It might be an opportunity to help them fix whatever is bothering—resulting in more engaged and productive employees.
One more thing, never cancel one-on-one video calls. You can reschedule if you have to but make sure they take place. Canceling is one of the quickest ways to create resentment on your team. So make the calls sacred.
Set time for small talk
When communicating with remote workers, it’s much easier to issue assignments, discuss the next project, put down any work-related fires, and hang up. It’s okay to follow this MO at times as it makes more sense and saves time.
However, if this goes on every day, like clockwork, you’re missing on building a rapport with your team. You can only cultivate trust be talking about things outside work-related objectives and goals. A good rapport requires you to know the whole person, not just the person that executes.
Ask them what they’re up to, their families, hobbies, where they come from, etc. It shows them you care, and also, you get to learn more about what motivates them.
Here are some ideas on how to build a rapport with a remote workforce.
No one can give from an empty cup. There is nothing to give if we’re running on empty.
With so many things beyond our control, taking care of ourselves is the only thing that we can control. Encourage your employees to practice clocking off work and not working 24/7 just because they live and work in the same space. Let them know the importance of adequate sleep, exercise, and healthy eating.
Self-care isn’t the extravagant spa or massage day. It’s about developing a routine that rejuvenates us, inspire us, and make us feel valued. It is an essential part of keeping everyone calibrated.
Virtual team meet-ups
No man or woman is an island.
Technology has made video conferencing available for teams to have fun and socialize. Healthy team relationships and camaraderie should be maintained despite the distance. Team bonding shouldn’t be put on the back burner. They need to keep working together.
Have virtual happy hours, coffee breaks, lunch, etc. to remind them they are working together, and they’re not alone.
Focus on outputs, not processes
The remote working environment has employees juggling family and work responsibilities in their homes. As a leader, you should enable them to be work during the hours they are most productive. You may have to forgo the lengthy 10 o’clock meeting and opt for short early morning or evening meetings.
According to Angela Civitella, a business leadership coach, “Although a concrete plan is a must, you should be open to adjusting strategies. Whether your employees choose to put in their hours in the morning or evening shouldn’t matter, as long as the work gets completed and is of high quality.”
For the remote workers in different time zones so you’ll be unable to reach them all at the same time. You can have some meetings in the morning for others in the evening to balance the schedule inconvenience.
Support career advancement
Everyone has goals and aspirations in life. Take the initiative to know what they want, organize webinar workshops and training sessions for them. Have a conversation on career development and find out where they are and how you can support them. You don’t have to promote your employees to support them. So give them support where possible.