The current pandemic has most states mandating that employees work from home whenever possible. For many businesses, it's a choice between transitioning to remote work or shutting the company down until officials determine that it's safe to reopen.
It's not a surprise that remote employees present some management challenges, particularly with the sudden nature of the transition. Here are some tips for managing remote employees now and in the future.
Let Go of the Need for Constant Monitoring
The first requirement of managing remote employees is to shift your expectations about how the workday is going to go. A few remote jobs involve being logged into a system that tracks and monitors every move, but the vast majority have found other ways of holding employees accountable for task completion and productivity that don't require managers to know what employees are doing every moment.
As long as the work is getting done when it needs to get done, it shouldn't matter how it's getting accomplished. Remote workers with kids at home may struggle with constant interruptions and need to take frequent breaks to help with remote schoolwork, so working at night after the kids are in bed may be a better option for them right now.
There are definite differences in communication when work is remote. There's no strolling down the hall and asking a question. Offices that have a friendly vibe can find it hard to maintain this with remote communication rather than face-to-face. Zoom meetings have become the norm, but they can take more time and prevent productivity in other areas.
One solution can be to have a dedicated messaging platform, like Slack, for instance, for work communication. That way, emails and messages won't get lost in the shuffle, and most messaging platforms are easy to use with mobile apps that send notifications when new communications are sent.
In emails and messages, tone can be hard to read. Using emojis like smiley faces can soften a directive or a correction and show that no one is in trouble or being judged harshly. Being specific in your language and addressing possible negative reactions in a positive way are also good ways to improve remote communication.
Set Clear Guidelines
Having a whole new set of virtual tools to use with remote working is hard enough, but workers also need to know the protocols for using each tool properly and in the right circumstances. An early meeting should focus on what kind of communication should be used in different situations so that everyone is clear on what to do.
In the same way, creating outcome-based guidelines for how work needs to be completed and turned in should be done early in the process. Deadlines and guidance for when those cannot be met are both essential parts of an outcome-based remote work process and can be necessary for everyone's peace of mind.
These are just a few of the considerations for managing remote workers. GDH can help your company meet hiring and management needs in this critical time. Contact us for more information.