With restrictions, social distancing, and regulations leaving some businesses only partially open, many employees must now work from home. This brings its own challenges as well. Managing remote workers might be a new concept for the leaders in your company. Overall, adjusting to this shift may seem more overwhelming than just operating in the limbo you’ve grown accustomed to.
But not to worry! In this article, we’ll discuss the parts of managing that ensure success with your remote employees. Even if your managers are brand new to the game of remote workers, the tips we cover are easily implemented.
While shifting to remote work is tough to handle at first, it’s a great alternative for your company during these challenging times. Allowing your employees to work from home allows them to stay safe and helps minimize risk to your other employees. With all of this being said, there are still some challenges for your remote workers.
Challenges for Remote Workers
Just as leaders can struggle with managing remote employees, it’s hard for many employees to adjust to working from home. When you’re used to seeing co-workers five or more days of the week, it’s hard to change. Along with this, there’s also the difference in routine. Some people have had the same daily routine for their entire adult lives. It’s challenging to switch from this to 100% at home. Not only this, but it happened unexpectedly and many employees likely weren’t prepared to be working from home.
Employees are people, and some of them (you probably know exactly who) are extroverts and prefer being around people. When managing remote workers, especially those that didn’t intend to be remote workers, it’s important to think about their mental health too. This has been a hard time for many young and extroverted people, so keep this in mind.
Aside from the social isolation that comes from working at home, there are additional distractions like children for many employees. Some daycares and schools are also closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. This means there can be quite a few family members trying to work in the same space, and it may not be big enough for that.
Add all of these challenges together and it’s easy to understand why this has been so difficult for some. This shift hasn’t been easy for any of us – but you owe it to your employees to do your best when managing them. These tips may also help ease the stress of this process for your employees also. So, let’s jump into our tips for managing your team at home.
Tips For Managing Remote Workers Successfully
Even if managing remote workers is brand new to you, there are some simple steps you can take to make it more successful. With organization, flexibility, and communication to name a few, you’ll be able to help your team be as successful as possible while away from the office.
Keep reading for some helpful tips for successfully managing your remote workforce. We’ll start with the foundation of any good workplace – organization.
When everyone is together, it’s easier to check-in and receive updates on things as you see each other. However, when everyone (or almost everyone) is working from their own home, it’s hard to check-in as frequently and keep yourself in the loop. In turn, you may feel like you have no idea what’s going on with everyone’s projects.
This is why having a good organizational system is such an important piece of managing remote workers. Create an organized system that helps you keep projects properly organized and your stress levels low.
So first thing’s first – get organized! If you feel like you have too much to keep track of, you probably need to get more organized. Use a combination of your computer’s calendar and reminders, a written desk calendar (or something that stays in your eye-line), and a team organizational tool. We’ll get into team tools in our communication section, but just remember to pick something that appeals to a wide range of users – which brings us to our next useful tip.
Flexibility (On Both Sides)
Flexibility is crucial when managing remote workers – especially during a pandemic. Employees may have various other things going and having to stay home may exacerbate these things. With so many resources being completely or partially closed, it’s harder for employees working at home with children and other family members. Understandably, this creates quite a few distractions.
With all of this being said, it’s easiest for employees to complete work outside of regular work hours. Being flexible also allows your employees to produce their best work. As long as your communication is open and the work is getting completed when it’s supposed to, it shouldn’t matter what time the employee is working.
Communication is Key
While all of these tips are important, communication is arguably the most important on this list when managing employees – whether it’s in the office or at home. Make sure you have consistent communication with your employees. When managing remote workers, this will help you keep tabs on everything going on and helps employees understand what you expect from them.
It’s also important to keep employees up-to-date with any changes happening within the company. Although everyone is at home, they still need to stay current and knowledgeable on company updates. Otherwise, you’re going to have an even bigger challenge when everyone is able to return to the office.
You should ensure the type of communication you’re using both suits your employees and is effective at the same time. With how many emails everyone receives daily, it’s unlikely that this alone will be enough for successful communication. Look into communication platforms like Trello.com, Monday.com, Asana.com, and others.
This will help your team communicate and keep track of everything without a ton of emails flying around.
Regularly Scheduled Check-Ins
Communication brings us to our next important piece of managing remote workers – check-ins. Set your expectations early and check-in often. Make sure they understand exactly what’s expected of them and if they’re not hitting those expectations – fix it!
When employees can’t regularly ask questions or update you in passing, it’s important to check in with them. This doesn’t mean micromanage and harass employees about their projects, but make sure they’re making progress and have everything they need to accomplish their tasks.
Use a Variety of Tools
All of our previous tips bring us to this final one – using a combination of tools to ensure your team’s success. There are many different tools you can use to communicate with employees, but in the age of COVID, you need to take it a step further to make sure it’s working. And of course, communication and organization are not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Along with your primary communication email, you should also start using a casual chatting system for team members, like slack.com, flock.com, etc. Chatting helps with communications in a different way than what we discussed before. A platform for chatting not only helps employees feel more connected while separate but also helps to keep emails clear of non-essential or important info.
It’s also a good idea to get a project management platform as well. Just as a chatting option keeps non-essentials out of your email, having a project management tool keeps your important information separate as well. The project management options we mention in the communication section also have additional tools for keeping projects organized. If you’re on the fence about why you need a project management system, look at all the additional features they have!
Along with these two platforms, it’s also good to have a video chatting option. It’s likely your meetings have already been moved to a platform like Zoom, Skype, Facetime, or another streaming method. If you haven’t yet, definitely find an option that works well for your team. It’s as close to in-person meetings as you can get right now. And bonus – of them have free options available for short calls.
If you use these tools to their full potential, it’ll be a game-changer for managing remote workers. Remember, people have spent quite a bit of time perfecting these platforms to be as efficient as possible… that speaks for itself!
Now Go Forth and Manage!
Now that we’ve fully covered our tips for managing remote workers, it’s time for you to set out and use them! If you don’t feel like an organized manager right now, start with that first. Then work your way through the tips for a fully streamlined team – even if none of them are working next to each other.