Until a few months ago, only around 5% of the global workforce was under the remote working model and knew of the benefits and challenges that came with it. However, the Covid-19 crisis has been an unprecedented event and led to the majority of the workforce to work from home. Working remotely, especially in the current scenario, comes with its own set of challenges, including lack of information access & supervision models, social isolation, and distraction at home among other things.
The challenges are even greater for managers and leaders who not only have to be efficient with the remote work practices but also keep up employee engagement. If you too are working to manage and engage your employees as they all work remotely, here are a few pointers to help you out.
The key to being a successful remote working manager is not just in knowing what your employees are doing, but helping them to plan it as well. A daily call should be structured, predictable, and regular. It could be a one-on-one call for teams where everyone has independent tasks or a team-call for collaborative work. This should be a forum where the employees can discuss important items with you, provide updates, and get any queries addressed. There would be meetings beyond the daily check-in as well and this is where establishing a few rules for remote team comes into play.
As everyone works remotely, establish some rules for engagement will help to streamline communication. As a manager, set expectations for the frequency, ways, and suitable time for communication within your team.
For instance, employees should be aware of the best time to reach you (during the morning or later in the day), how to reach out during emergencies, and what channels to use. Keeping a tab on employees' communication with each other (to an appropriate degree) helps you ensure that they are sharing information as needed.
As employees are expected to continue to work from home for a while (and some, permanently), they need clear direction to ensure that they do not feel 'stranded'. What should they do after completing a particular task? Who are the points of contact for specific items? Similar to onboarding a new employee, remote employees must have clear directions on things like:
Feeling integral and productive can be hard in virtual meetings. As the manager, you can help by engaging all your employees through the reduction of any distracting sounds, informing everyone who all are in the meeting, and pausing for feedback wherever feasible. Further, circulate the purpose, objective, and any other related details of the meeting in advance.
Knowledge sharing is crucial to employee development and the overall success of the company. With remote working, opportunities for knowledge sharing can decrease as they have fewer chances for social learning and in-person sessions. Try to make up for that through periodic knowledge sharing sessions virtually. There are a host of tools including Google Meet, Webex, MS Teams etc. to help with that.
This form of feedback helps to connect all your remote employees. It allows for constructive communication and collaboration and helps employees learn from one another. A survey conducted by PwC revealed that over 60% of professionals would like weekly feedback. This goes up to 72% of employees who are under the age of 30. So if you have a younger remote team, remember that they seek more frequent feedback.
While remote working on a large scale may have started of necessity, organizations are realizing its value and it is surely here to stay. Amid all that, managers will have to adapt to this new normal and find new ways to lead and engage. These tips on managing your team remotely can be the starting point of doing just that.