Working remotely isn’t new, but ever since the onset of COVID-19, it has become increasingly normalized. And, according to some HR experts, that’s unlikely to change any time soon. According to a recent Gartner survey, 90 percent of HR professionals say their employees will continue to be allowed to work remotely, even after COVID vaccinations are widely available.
As such, managing remote teams is a skill that leaders need to invest in. Here are a few guidelines and best practices.
How to Manage Remote Employees
1) Equip your employees.
Being able to remain productive and efficient while working remotely requires employees to have the right IT setup. This means having a good computer and laptop, of course, but it may also mean having a decent camera, up-to-date anti-virus software, and more. Be willing to invest in the right tech for your team members; and, be ready to devote your IT team’s resources to assisting employees who need to be coached through their home office setup.
2) Be alert to signs of burnout, depression, and anxiety.
When your employees work remotely, it’s that much harder for you to identify the warning signs of mental illness. Learn about some of the signs and symptoms you need to be aware of; we have a couple of posts that can help you out. Additionally, be intentional in checking in with your employees one-on-one, asking how they are doing and letting them know you want to support them however possible.
3) Don’t micromanage.
When managers can no longer see their employees hard at work in the office, the temptation is to start breathing over their shoulder and scrutinizing every last thing they are doing. Remember to trust your employees until given reason not to; after all, you hired them to do a job, so give them space to do it. Do maintain regular check-ins and performance reviews, but resist the urge to micromanage, which will only cause frustration and stress.
4) Create opportunities for dialogue.
One of the best ways to keep your remote workers engaged is to invite them into regular dialogue. You can do this in a number of ways, such as by offering virtual “office hours” on Skype or Zoom, or simply having an “open door policy” where folks can call you as needed. Just be sure your employees know when and how they can reach you for one-on-ones.
5) Emphasize objectives.
Whether in your one-on-ones or through virtual team huddles, be sure you point your employees back to the vision, values, and mission of your company. And, provide each employee with a sense of how their unique role contributes to team objectives. By showing your employees that their work matters and that they are part of something bigger, you can help them stave off isolation.
6) Allow flexibility.
When managing remote employees, it’s generally best to focus on output, not necessarily on processes. Remember that your employees are balancing their professional responsibilities with family needs, which can be a tough balancing act. So, if one employee needs to start work 15 minutes late so they can get their kids set up with virtual learning, try to be flexible: Focus on what your employees are getting done, not necessarily how they’re doing it.
More Questions About Employee Management?
Remote work poses some challenges, but also some unique opportunities for your team to embrace innovation, independence, and flexibility. If you have any additional questions or comments, we’d love to hear them! Reach out to WhiteWater Consulting at your next opportunity.