The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has meant that remote working from home has become a reality for many employees across a wide variety of sectors and industries. With these unprecedented circumstances comes new challenges as well as opportunities for businesses.
To yield the best results for your company, setting clear boundaries and establishing strong communication links between your clients and your employees who are working remotely is essential.
When done right, virtual teams can be just as strong, productive, and committed as co-located teams - but it has to be nurtured to be successful.
Read on to discover top tips for managing remote workers during challenging times and preparing your team effectively for a transition from office to home.
Tips for Managers of Remote Teams
Test out your technology beforehand (if you can!)
If you take the time to experiment, practice and rehearse using any technology that you or your employees will use when working from home then the entire process will be smoother and more efficient for everyone involved.
Before transitioning into remote working, it’s a good idea to test any technology or tools your team will use to communicate by setting up group meetings through voice or video calls.
You might also want to consider looking at what you can do to reduce the need for VPNs and the quality of your Wifi connection at home before making the move from office to home.
Eliminating the need for employees to email documents between each other is also crucial for making sure everyone is on the same page at all times. Prepare by moving all documents onto OneDrive or other cloud storage systems.
If you work in teams, make sure any key documents are available for all employees who need access.
Find a digital equivalent to current processes
Daily tools that are taken for granted in the office every day, might not be an option when working remotely. But, no longer getting use out of them doesn’t have to be a show stopper.
You might consider re-creating or substituting some of those daily tools for digital options. For example, switching from a physical to virtual whiteboard.
Be visible and make clients a priority
In challenging situations such as the global coronavirus pandemic, businesses and clients are all impacted in one way or another.
Clients will often face similar challenges as your company. Under government guidance clients may be conducting professional business from home or, depending on the industry, they might now have more time on their hands than they did before.
Be transparent with clients and customers. Keep them in the loop with voice or video calls, tell them clearly that you’re still open for business, and let them know if any of your services have changed.
It’s a great idea to try to find or create new value and opportunities designed to alleviate any struggles in the current circumstances.
Balancing trust and control vs micro-managing
When it comes to remote working, employers have to trust their employees to get the job done.
Judging employee performance based on effort and output is far more effective than measuring based on the amount of time spent working.
Employers should provide clear expectations, set specific deadlines, and provide the right materials and tools for the job to get the best results.
Encourage a team culture
A strong team is focussed on a collective vision and business objective. When team members share and collaborate ideas, it enhances their abilities to individually fulfill their specific job roles.
Working remotely places a greater need for communication and purposeful collaboration.
Each company is different, so it’s good to understand what works best for your team. Consider factors like the amount of support, focus and objectives, and special individual needs of each person.
Just as every office environment is different, so is every home environment. Some people are not good at working on their own, so make sure they always have you or a fellow colleague they can reach out to if they’re struggling.
Maintain team spirit
Keeping team spirit going is an important way to make sure that morale and motivation stays high among your employees.
While their jobs are a fundamental part of life, for many workers going to work and interacting with colleagues socially can be hugely beneficial for job satisfaction as well as mental health.
Consider still doing Friday night beers....just remotely with the help of digital communication tools.
Conference Call Etiquette
When working remotely, conference calls are going to continue being regular fixtures on work schedules, perhaps even more than usual.
It’s important that everyone involved in a conference call follows clear rules to make sure that all communication is done as effectively as possible so no one misses any key information or details.
- Speak over others and hog the ‘airspace’.
- Drag phones across tables.
- Allow background noise. If it can’t be helped ask those who aren't speaking to mute their microphones.
- Appoint a facilitator/host/chair to manage the call.
- Start calls on time and go ‘round the room’ to introduce everyone.
- Especially for larger audio-only calls, encourage people to say their name before speaking.
- Manage noise as best you can by muting and unmuting your microphone.
- Encourage and enable everyone to speak. In lively calls, clearly gesture or signal when you want to speak then be patient and wait for the host to invite you to talk.
Turn adversity into opportunity with Change Recruitment
Switching from an office environment to an office at home can be a big change for employees, and some are guaranteed to respond quicker and more efficiently than others.
At Change Recruitment, our goal is to help employers find the best candidates and employees to take the next big step in their careers.
Speak to one of our recruitment specialists to get started.
Other Relevant Articles
Learn more about how employers can help provide a healthy work-life balance for employees and help them balance childcare commitments during the school holidays.
Discover how some public practice firms have started to offer flexible working and promote diversity. Learn more about flexible working in public practice firms in our recent article.
Read our recent article to learn how employers can help parents get back into the swing of things after maternity/paternity leave.