As difficult as the COVID-19 workplace restrictions have made it for businesses around the globe, you should celebrate the ways you're rising to the challenge and building strong, productive, and happy remote teams.
It's not easy.
And if you're navigating the new world of remote workers, you're probably also trying to find the best ways to engage and motivate your team. Here are three helpful tips for managing your newly remote workers to keep them happy and ensure the work gets done.
1. Help employees with their new workspaces
If your team is remote for the first time, help them get settled in their new environments. Working from home can be tough, especially for those with families or roommates. And it’s a different experience when you have to work from home all the time — rather than just when you want to.
So your managerial know-how can make a real difference not only to the team’s day-to-day productivity but also to your staff’s wellbeing in the long-term. These are three tips for helping your staff with their new work life.
Encourage dedicated workspaces. Working at the dining table might work for an hour or two on the occasional weekend, but it doesn’t cut it for a full-time job. Share ideas and help to problem solve so that your employees can create a productive job-specific space in their homes. For call center operatives, for example, point out cost-effective ways to soundproof rooms for fewer interruptions.
Reserve budget for setup costs. You don’t need a big budget to help your team better their at-home office. In fact, $20 or $30 can buy a computer stand for better ergonomics. And if you can afford more, that money can help staff buy a new monitor or chair. It’s worth the investment.
Make it easy to clock in and clock out. Once the physical workspaces are set up, employees need to get into the right headspace for work, too. More than a way to track work hours and make accurate payments (especially for hourly workers), making it easy to clock in and out helps people to separate their work and personal lives.
2. Develop effective communication methods
The way we communicate in-person doesn’t always translate to remote setups. This can leave teams in the dark about who is working on what and what managers expect, especially if people have new responsibilities, like if your store manager is now helping with marketing.
Promote a culture of transparency. Facing challenges in new environments can make people feel insecure about their work. Reduce that anxiety by making schedules, projects, and deadlines visible to the whole team. This puts people at ease about what everyone else is doing and makes them more likely to do better work.
Make regular efforts to check in with employees. Don’t expect your employees to come to you as much when they are remote. Set reminders so that at a certain time each day you take 15 minutes to check in with your staff. How are they doing? Do they need anything? Do they have any questions?
Over-communicate. With remote teams, you need to communicate more often and in more detail. At first, this might seem like you’re micromanaging, but in those key early stages it’s OK to be the “over-sharer.” Organize your communications in one app so nothing gets lost.
3. Promote employee wellbeing
Remote work is tough for some people. Although employees can avoid stressful commutes, save money on work lunches, and spend more time at home, some people are actually finding it a drain on their mental energies to work remotely. Children or elderly parents in the background. Video call fatigue. Neck pain.
Remember that everyone has a different situation, and you need to do your best to focus on personal wellness for your whole team. Here are a few creative ideas to help.
Schedule a virtual snapshot event. Employees get to show off their personalities at work, so help them do so at home, too. Have everyone take a picture of their desks, gardens, pets, and kids (if they want) and share it to your company newsfeed. It's a great way for everyone to know each other better.
Host regular team-bonding activities. Having remote staff doesn’t mean you can’t do Taco Tuesdays or Funny-Hat Fridays. Build fun activities into the week to break up the workload and encourage your team to bond, just like they would after closing up shop for the day. It’s good for their wellbeing as well as their productivity.
Use audio updates instead of in-person meetings. Being on-screen all day long can be tough, so give people the option to listen to important news and updates where possible. Try sending instructions via voice message instead of email, and record longer updates for playback at the employees' convenience to reduce time spent in video conferences.
Practice makes perfect (enough)
When it comes down to it, how you choose to manage your team will depend on your management style, your company, and the employees themselves. And really, there’s no perfect way of doing it.
Whatever you do, make sure you’ve got the information you need to tackle these challenges head-on. For more tips about managing through the new world of work, download Howthe Hourly Workforce is Changing and start your preparations today.