Managing staff remotely and effectively
We are living in trying times where the structure of our days have changed, work relationships are changing and the way we remotely work and do our job is ultimately changed forever.
Managing the changes in an organisation can be a challenge but it can be done. The trick is, how to balance it all from afar? This is the new challenge for business owners and Managers. Managing staff remotely and effectively becomes more of a challenge when you are not working face-to-face. Managing performance can also be a challenge when you cannot see people and their actions and movements, as some of us think that just showing up for 8 hours every day means productivity.
I would like to share with you some of the strategies and ways to remotely work that I have put in place with great success in my own business. Now just because I have done it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone but it is designed to give you ideas and make managing staff remotely, just a little easier.
Ideas to help your team
So, if you or your team members/employees are having trouble with distractions or not managing the work from home strategy there are some strategies that can be used to minimise the distress and issues they have. Let’s look at a few strategies that can be used to help you and your employees/team members manage remote work and minimise distractions when working from home:
- Check in with your employees/team members – you are still responsible for the health and safety of your employees. Chat daily and openly discuss their job security, impact and tension arising from this situation. Asking about how they are coping with working from home is also a great way to judge the mental state of each person. Remember, some people are really happy to be working from home whereas others can’t wait to get back into the workplace. A weekly video chat is also a good way to stay connected to your employees/team members.
- Provide several modes of communication – for my staff we have email, skype, text, zoom and phone calls. This means that if they need something quickly they can get it using any one of 4 methods of communication.
- Provide time for social interaction – at the beginning or end of zoom or other meetings, provide some time for social chit-chat. Set the meeting time for 15-20 mins before the start of the actual meeting so that people have time for a little social interaction. Sometimes, this is best at the beginning of the meeting so people are more relaxed prior to meetings being started.
- Provide appropriate resources – make sure your employees have everything they need to work safely and effectively in their homes. This includes thing such as:
- Appropriate computers and access to important Files, documents normally used at work
- Adequate desk, chair and other furniture items if needed, (these need to be adequate for purpose)
- Virtual communications equipment such as: cameras etc…
- Trust employees – you need to trust that employees are going to do the right thing and completing their job correctly. Do fixate on the amount of hours worked or that someone hasn’t answered an email or skype message when you think they should have.
- Reinforce the values of the organisation – continue to lead by example. You may not be face-to-face with employee’s right now but there is no reason you can’t lead by example.
- Establish rules of engagement with employees/team members – for example, video conferencing is used for check-ins skype is used for urgent questions/actions, telephone is used when people need to hear another voice or when they need to ask several questions. It is also good to give people times that are best to contact you unless it is an urgent request. This means that each person is managed over a day rather than everyone at 9am in the morning.
- Focus on objectives – Rather than worrying about how many hours employees are working amongst the distractions at home, focus on the performance goals. Give individuals target tasks for the week. I have used this with my employees and have found productivity to be higher when working from home even though they are working less hours.
- Provide additional recognition – this can come in many forms. My team now have a work walk and talk on a Tuesday morning where everyone brings kids and dogs for a 5km walk along the river. It gives everyone a chance to chat, face-to-face. Some of us have no contact with others as we live along, so going for that walk is a vital part of the week.
- We also have birthday celebrations where we go out for a lunch together (unless we are in lockdown)
- You could offer an employee of the month award for a special reason (i.e. a staff member volunteered somewhere or did some good in the community) where you could provide a voucher or some other reward
- Encourage innovative thinking – given the chance, staff members offer really innovative ideas. Encourage then to open up about these ideas and if you run with the idea, include them in the development. Give credit where credit is due, after all, it might be that innovative idea that keeps your business afloat during tough times.
These strategies to work remotely are not the be all and end all of the suggestions but they can help to keep you and your workers productive and motivated when isolation is necessary and managing staff remotely becomes a challenge.
Written by Donna Bowman
Managing Director – EYF Online PD
and Contributing Published Author
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