By Rachel Houghton, MD, Business Moves Group

If you want to support your employee’s happiness and development at work in the best possible way, you need to ensure your managers are affective at managing remote workers. Whilst it may seem daunting, there are some simple but effective steps you can take to help this.

Common challenges that managers face include employees disengaging with work culture and missing the social aspects of being in the workplace. This lack of face-to-face supervision, combined with feelings of social isolation, can severely impact work progress. Therefore, managers need to ensure they are leading their teams effectively when facing these roadblocks.

Here are some simple tips for managing remote workers to help navigate this turbulent time with your team.

Have daily check-ins

These can be as formal or informal as you like, but ensuring there is an opportunity to talk with your team on a daily basis is a great place to start. Using video calling to do this is the best way to stimulate the need for social interactions, as you can talk with your team in a digitally face-to-face way. To keep teams satisfied, and not feel as if they are being “monitored”, you could make these daily check-ins voluntary and non-work related. This way, team members who are comfortable with the remote lifestyle don’t feel any pressure, whilst team members who crave social interaction can join as often as they wish.

Managing expectations

As the way we work has adapted, people’s roles have also changed. The most dangerous thing you can do for your team in this situation is assume that they understand where to focus their energy in this new, adapted role. To avoid this, ensure you manage the expectations of your employees. Arrange regular feedback sessions to you can ensure all members are comfortable with what their position entails, as well as their work.

Don’t micro-manage

It is increasingly difficult to micro-manage employees when they work remotely, so it’s best to leave it that way. One of the anticipated outcomes of remote work being here to stay was the increase in autonomy. However, a recent surveyrevealed that 75% of executive leaders believe they are already operating within a culture of flexibility, yet only 57% of employees would agree. Focussing on outcomes of work and projects, rather than activity, is the answer. Allowing employees to develop and execute their own way of working enhances creativity and ownership. If you supply them with clear goals to reach, how they get there can be up to them.

Have some empathy

Acknowledge the stresses and difficulties that moving to remote work can bring. Listen to your team’s difficulties and offer assistance and advice where both necessary and appropriate. Employees look to their managers for cues about how to react to sudden changes, so if you’re stressing, so will they. Of course, if you yourself are experiencing difficulties, ensure you have the correct support systems in place within your business for all levels of your team. But overall, remember what the Navy SEALs say: calm is contagious.

Over-communicate

Too much is never enough in this environment. Informing your team on any and all relevant aspects of the business is fundamental for keeping them on track and focused on the tasks at hand. Keep things from them, and they’re more likely to disengage and, potentially, turn against you. Keep in touch daily, and ensure your team know you are available to talk to. The frosty, unavailable boss is bad enough in person, let alone through the computer.

Be flexible

The last and final tip for managing remote workers is to recognise the need for flexibility. Much like our tip about being empathetic, remember that everyone on your team has a different home environment that has the potential to affect their work. Whether it’s working in a shared space, a private space, in public, or around their spouses or children, your team are experiencing distractions everyday whether they like it or not. Studies have suggested that we can’t concentrate for more than 90 minutes before our brain starts to lose focus, so regular breaks are needed and should be encouraged to have a productive workday.

All these tips sound simple in their format, but they will require extensive attention and commitment from management. If remote work is your business’ future, then undertaking even some of these tips can aid your team’s new normal and make the workplace, even if it isn’t physical, a good place to be.

We support our clients regularly when navigating workplace change with their teams, including adapting to hybrid work. To discuss how Business Moves Group can support your business, contact us.

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