The world is going through turbulent times. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic citizens have been asked to isolate themselves and maintain social distancing.
In these pressing times, a huge number of organizations have moved their resident workforce to a remote working setup in the shortest span of time.
The initial struggle to manage the Infrastructure and Connectivity did take time, but the swiftness and efficiency of the IT departments seem to have done a magnificent job all over.
Most offices are also going remote to reduce their infrastructure costs drastically and to empower businesses to keep running even in case of any regional calamities.
A distributed workforce gives you access to Global talent; you can identify and hire the right people who are the best fit for the job.
Due to the current unanticipated scenario, companies have started operating in a distributed fashion, but building a Culture that upholds and fuels a remote workforce is easier said than done.
The primary question that most managers have is “How is it going to work out?”.
To address these preliminary hurdles that you face while managing a remote team, below are a few tips on working with a remote workforce.
The Benefits of Remote Work- for both employees and managers
In nearly every industry, employers and employees alike are benefiting from the advantages of remote work. key benefits of remote working are as follows:-
Offering remote work makes businesses more competitive
Regardless of product, mission, or business goals, it's the people who drive business success. Who, other than your employees, will shape the products of the future, drive the efficiency of your teams, and see through the growth and health of your business plan?
Remote work can play a positive role in this arena, offering a sense of personal recognition between employer and employee.
35 percent of employees would change jobs if it meant the ability to work off-site full-time, according to research.
Less time spent commuting
A reduction in the amount of time spent on a stressful and unpleasant commute is undoubtedly a benefit for employees, but it could also give your business a boost.
The health and wellbeing of your workforce have proven links to productivity and a reduction in absenteeism. Whether it's an hour and a half train ride or a 30-minute drive through rush hour traffic, this is time they'll never get back.
When working from home, an employee arrives fresh at their desk and raring to go. Working from home also reduces their traveling costs, which means your employees can spend more of their money on the things they love. The result is a happier, healthier, and more motivated workforce.
Your Office Can Be Anywhere—and I Mean Anywhere!
And you're not tied to your home, either. That doesn't mean your only other location will be the coffee shop around the corner.
You can take care of your job while traveling (passengers only if you're in the car, please!), enjoying the great outdoors (thanks to long laptop battery life and tethering to your phone), or even listening to your favorite band at a live concert (a tested and true location of a remote customer service manager I know who's a die-hard country music fan).
Remote work equals an increase in productivity
Business owners need to have a certain amount of trust in their employees to let them work from home, but those that do can benefit from an increase in productivity.
The myth of remote workers being lazy pseudo-professionals without real jobs is just that: a myth.
Telecommuters have shown to be more productive than employees who work from a physical office.
Increased efficiency among remote workers is linked to the autonomy telecommuters enjoy, leading to reduced workplace distractions and more freedom to work during hours they find most productive.
The Challenges of Managing Remote Teams
Tracking your Team's productivity and work
Do you know how much work your remote team accomplishes and at what rate?
For many managers, the answer to these questions is unclear. It's hard to know if someone is being underutilized or is not pulling their weight without an understanding of their productivity.
Your company culture isn't there
Because your remote employees are not occupying the same physical space every day, it can be a challenge to get them feeling as though they are a part of the culture that exists.
Managing communication between the whole team
There are so many different methods of communication now that it can be difficult to pick the correct ones to use. While one person may love using email to set tasks, somebody else may prefer to take a call.
Thus, establishing one particular communication mode becomes difficult sometimes.
People aren't managing their work-life balance correctly
While remote work is a great way of achieving a great work-life balance, sometimes the boundaries can get blurred between when you should be working and when you should be relaxing.
Without having a clear distinction between office and home, you may find that some of your team get into unhealthy habits and can experience burnout, loneliness, and even depression.
Essential Tips for Managing Remote Employees
1: Track hours worked, attendance, and other basic measures of productivity
In a completely virtual environment, it can be difficult to understand exactly what is going on, how long each person worked, and what they are working on.
Some people are extremely disciplined and can get to work on time, stay on task, and avoid all distractions. However, most of us, need some accountability. We need to "clock in" and make sure we avoid distractions like Facebook or YouTube.
2: Make time for small talk
You should be in regular communication with your team. One of the hardest things about working from home, especially if you're used to an office environment, is the sense of loneliness and isolation that can set in.
That's especially true considering that many people are practicing social distancing.
3: Be Flexible and resource your team
Trust your team and give them the freedom and flexibility to get work done on the schedule that helps them be the most productive. That's good for your team in the long run anyway.
Also, Make sure your team has the technology it needs to get the work done. They need tools like laptops, software, mobile devices, or even a high-speed internet connection.
It's not reasonable to assume that everyone has all of those things, and it's your responsibility as a manager to make sure they do.
4: Look out when they are in Distress
Research shows that employees look to their managers about how to respond to a crisis. If managers show signs of helplessness and anxiety, it trickles down to their employees.
Therefore, managers should not only create the right communication channel to support and hear their employees but also should be positive and empowering in any crisis.
Keys for Working from Home during Coronavirus
Amid the new coronavirus pandemic, many companies are implementing voluntary or mandatory work-from-home policies. That means lots of us are dealing with an unusual challenge: working from home for the first time, full-time.
Even if you've done it before, working from home because of coronavirus might feel like a whole new world: It's probably sudden. It might be for an extended period rather than a day here and there (and you're not at all sure how long it'll last). Your whole company is involved. And you can't necessarily socialize in person outside of work.
These tips will help you make sure that you're successful, both at getting your work done and at maintaining your mental well-being:
- Get Dressed
- Designate a Workspace or Home Office Properly
- Keep Clearly Defined Working Hours
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate with your team
- Don't Forget to Socialize
- Build Transitions Into (and Out of) Work
- Get some fresh air
Tips for Motivating Remote Teams
With Remote workers, it's a little more difficult– and way less effective– to express the same kind of praise or motivational message through a one-line message in chat or email.
While motivating your remote team members is more difficult, there are things you can do– outside of regular one on ones– to let them know what a good job they're doing and motivate them to do their best.
Here are a few tips for motivating your remote employees:
One of the best ways to offer productivity and motivation for your remote team members is to set up development plans with them during regular one on ones.
Regularly checking on employees' performance, setting up targets to be completed by next week, investing in a few cloud-based software for work schedules, etc. can help increase productivity by many folds.
On top of mission-oriented communication, regular feedback is critical to keeping your team motivated. Yes, it helps with aligning on expectations and objectives.
More importantly, though, it demonstrates to your team you care about their work and their professional development, which will encourage them to take risks and try more innovative approaches, all of which will motivate your team even more.
Stay on the ball, and be a coach to your team. Provide regular feedback on how they can constantly become better and communicate with your team.
For example, set up weekly 1-on-1s with your team to provide a quick talk on their work. Go beyond this, and also ask about your team's wellbeing. How are they adjusting to remote work? Showing that you care goes a long way to motivating your team.
Researchers address the importance of developing a company culture with remote employees to foster engagement.
This can be a difficult thing to do when communicating virtually.
It suggests that to nurture culture, you first have to build trust and one good way to accomplish this is to bring remote team members together frequently.
By including remote workers in on company meetings and other events regularly, a common thread of culture is more easily shared by all.
Remote is the future – Are you ready?
There’s a lot about managing remote employees that’s exactly the same as managing those on-location. However, it’s a mistake to assume that a remote employee is the same as one working in the same office as you.
Remote employees are faced with unique challenges and you have to understand those challenges to effectively manage them as part of your team.
Implementing these tips is an investment in not only your team, but in you as a manager. The better you understand the needs, the better manager you’ll become– and the better prepared you’ll be for a world where remote work is quickly becoming the norm.
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