2020 was expected to see a huge expansion of remote work. And why not? Technology has made remote work easier and more efficient than any other time in human history. Video Conferencing, e-mails and virtual tools allow you to carry the office home in your laptop or tablet. A large number of major corporations have been testing what is possible with remote work but no one anticipated the largest work-from-home experiment that came with Covid-19.
Here are 3 Tips for Managing Remote Employees...One - Get Fundamental Agreements
Remote work causes a feeling of distance. People are at home. Everyone’s home is different. Some of your employees have three kids and might be trying to hide in the corner of their kitchen to work, while others live alone and have a secluded home office. No matter the situation, your employees will be distanced from the company as they aren’t in the workplace and this adds time to communication. In the office, getting vital information took getting up and walking down the hall. From home, it might mean waiting for an unreachable employee who is on the other line with another co-worker to answer an email.
Laying down fundamental agreements from the start will help you cope with this problem:
- There needs to be normal working hours for the team. Set when the workday begins and when it ends.
- Set a timeframe on when people need to get back to each other. If a co-worker reaches out with an e-mail do we have to answer it immediately or by the end of the day? A good way to establish timeframes is to lay them out specifically against the communication channels you will be using. For example, if it can wait until the end of the day it's an e-mail but if you need something expedited send a text message or call for urgent communication.
- How do employees notify others when they will be unavailable and unable to stick to normal working hours or communication time frames? Does the whole team need an email when an employee needs to see the doctor or just the boss? A lot of remote work teams have found success in using a shared calendar that everyone can access and see.
Two - Make It Personal
Connection and relationships are essential to a productive team. Workplace friendship plays a huge role in employee engagement. When your employees are also friends you can expect to see more cooperation, less internal conflict and generally there will be more production. In a traditional office, social interaction naturally occurs but not in a virtual space.
So how can remote managers make it personal? Here are a few tips:
- Spend the beginning of your virtual meetings asking about personal interests. How was your weekend? How are the kids? Whatever you feel comfortable asking, the point is to make conversation about their lives.
- When you meet virtually with your team, encourage everyone at the start to socialize and ask each other questions about what’s happening in their lives.
- Create an online space for your team to talk about non-work related subjects such as sports, books or movies. A lot of companies use software like Basecamp or Slack to do this.
- When employees do something good in the workplace they usually get some validation. Working remotely, the validation either doesn’t come or is delayed. So, make it a point to recognize team members for their efforts and achievements.
Three - Start a Mentoring Program
Many remote workers suffer from isolation. Remote work isolation can lead to feelings of depression and being disengaged from work. The human connection to one’s company can get foggy, work can become purposeless.
One of the best tools companies can use to engage their employees is a Mentoring Program that connects employees with more experienced peers. This vital relationship can help guide uncertain employees through the new world of virtual productivity. Many employees will feel confident about being home and working remotely. Sure, maybe they are proficient in their given field and can perform their work from home but what many employees don’t account for is the sheer mental fatigue that comes with remote work isolation. Career stagnancy, imposter syndrome and just plain old loneliness can weigh anyone down. A mentor helps solve all these problems.
Through the use of a formal mentoring program, your remote employees will have someone they can connect with and talk to within the company. This person won’t be their superior, but their mentor. The role of the mentor can be vital in keeping your remote employees engaged. Not only can a mentor help an employee through a tough time, they can also show them things they should be doing during this transition period to make work easier.
Formal Mentoring programs can be leveraged and used in different ways. They can be monitored more closely, meetings can be increased and progress can be sped up. Watch to see how your workforce responds to your mentor program during this time and take note. Any positive changes to your mentoring program during this time might need to become permanent when everyone comes back to work.
Mentor Resources can help any company to leverage technology to create tailored career development programs that are cost-effective. Our mentoring software - Wisdom Share is a cloud-based program that is simple and comes with guided workflows. Included are tools for administrators to attract, enroll, connect and guide participants. We also provide analytics to ensure you can monitor your employee development program and easily see ROI metrics. Reach out to us today for Free Demonstration of our software.