We’ve all had to adapt very quickly to new ways of working in a very short time. For many people and businesses, this has meant working from home or remotely – possibly for the very first time.
Once the business has overcome the logistics of ensuring people are able to work remotely, it still leaves managers with a challenge. If employees are scattered far and wide, how can managers still ensure they do what’s best for their teams? Here are our top 10 tips.
- Be as open as possible and trust people to do what is expected of them.
Whether your style was hands on, to micromanage, or sit back, you’ve now got little choice in the matter. So let your team get on and do the jobs they’re employed to do.
- Recognising stress or a lack of engagement early is vital. Get to know each team member so you can spot when there is a change.
When you see each other pretty much every day, a change in people’s appearance or moods are more obvious. When working remotely, be aware of how they speak on the phone, the tone of their emails and keep an eye on performance. And where appropriate, use video tools for meetings to help gauge how they look and their mood.
- Communicate clearly and honestly.
Hold regular team meetings, but also call staff individually – even if it’s just a catch up.
And remember, these can be tough times for many people, so talk about how they’re doing – not just work.
- Treat all team members as you would want to be treated yourself.
We’re all in the same boat, so don’t play the boss card. Management style can cause stress, sickness absence and even be why people leave jobs. So don’t dictate, for example, and then put your feet up while everyone else rushes around.
- Promote training and development opportunities to keep up interest and motivation.
But make sure they’re relevant, and think about personal development. Developing better behaviours can make for a better employee.
- Don’t forget the importance of recognition and thanks.
We might expect a thank you after delivering a hefty piece of work, but those little everyday, face-to-face thank yous following a good day’s work or doing something quickly can get overlooked when we’re not in the workplace.
- Keep an eye on people’s output and less on the time they’re working – especially if they have children or others to care for. Suggest flexible hours if possible.
When we’re working remotely, it’s easier than ever for our home and working lives to mix. Some people may do their best work after 7pm when children are in bed, while others may need to split their days with family stuff. It’s the results that count, so don’t clockwatch.
- Ensure staff liaise amongst themselves – peer-to-peer interaction without a manager is essential.
Your teams are very likely to have a close rapport or bond, so encourage them to get together on a call or video. And yes, you may well come up in conversation, for good or bad, but remember, it’s good for morale!
- Act as a role model for positive health and wellbeing.
If you’re sending emails at 11pm, your people may think they’re expected to do the same. Make sure they know it’s ok to knock off when they’re supposed to and lead by example.
- Remind people of the importance of taking breaks. Remember the 40:20 rule, 40 minutes sitting, 10 minutes standing plus 10 minutes moving and/or stretching.
It’s easy to get stuck at our desks, so encourage your teams to step away from their work to stretch their legs. And if people really can’t spare the time, there are plenty of desk exercises they can do to help stay healthy.