In the current time and scenario, working from home is no longer a necessity but rather a trend in several companies around the world. Consequently, hundreds of managers and team leaders have found themselves in a unique spot, wherein they have to manage a team working remotely suddenly. If truth be told, this can feel overwhelming and scary, especially if it is the first time that you are doing it, and you barely had time to prepare. If this seems like you, well, fret no more. We have some of the best solutions for you. Here, in this article, we will discuss some practical tips that work. So let us get started and address them one by one.
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Set clear expectations right from the start
Setting precise boundaries, stating clear guidelines, and reviewing the basics is most definitely one of the first steps you need to take when working together as a team on any project. Now, when the project is new, there will naturally be doubts and queries. As a team leader or a manager, you have to be accessible to the team for these questions. Therefore, it should be your priority to offer them adequate clarity before they start working on anything. In addition to it, there should be a thorough discussion on the goals and the milestones you and the company expect them to achieve with each project. Also, note down the availability of every single member of the team. This is vital to ensure that it is easier to reach them as required.
Be it remote or in-office, managers are supposed to keep the team members updated on the staffing changes, policy, tips for remote working, and the objectives for the company’s success. Further, they should depict model behavior around the employees, such as promptly responding to the work texts and emails. This is precisely how the employees will learn. Also, when the employee knows what’s expected of him without any inflexibility or unnecessary pressure, it is easier for them to maintain a healthy work and life balance.
Most employees experience a common problem these days. Since there is no physical separation between office and home, there is no switch-off time. This can be hazardous and be the cause of burnout. So, ensure that your expectations are not so overwhelming that in an attempt to keep up with the professional goals, the employees fail to find a time for their personal goals and desires.
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Have a daily check-in
During the lockdown period, we were working from home. Even today, a lot of our employees are working from home, keeping in view their safety in times of a pandemic. Though we were at home, it did not mean we were not checking in on each other. I ensured that the whole team had a regular face-to-face video conversation, wherein the interaction, of course, the professional wasn’t curtailed to only office talks. We kept a check on each other’s mental well-being and family health and ensured that each of us was hale and hearty,’ comments Subrat, the founder of FineGrades.
Of course, you will have emails conversations, Slack check-ins, and phone conversations, but you also need to see each other. The good thing is there have always been multiple communication tools to make this possible, and many new tools have also come in place. The most popular ones that you can conveniently rely on are Google Meet and Hangouts. Initially, video conversations can happen every day. The purpose is straightforward – setting the object, providing necessary resources, and giving feedback.
Your employees must have different options for communications. In this digital, fast-paced world, email alone would not suffice. Instead, remote employees must benefit from the richer technology, such as conference video calls, which work well to break the physical barrier.
If your company does not have any communication tools in place, fret not. There is a bundle of inexpensive ways to acquire simple versions of the tools. This can be a perfect short-term fix. You can seek suggestions from your IT team to find the ideal tools. Do ensure that there is the right security level in place before implementing any tools.
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Always check for the signs of distress in the team members.
‘While we were working from home, our managers utilized indirect and direct observations to understand the concerns and challenges we faced. Due efforts were taken to ensure that every employee felt cared for and supported, regardless of the physical absence,’ shares Donna, an associate with FineGrades, who offers online IELTS classes.
To ensure seamless interactions between employees and managers, you must offer the requisite guidance to the managers. Managers must acknowledge that there may be some inconveniences and challenges that the employees may be experiencing as an outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic. These may be concerns relating to job security, incompetence, or challenges faced in adopting the new work model, problems or stress at home, among other things. These should be tactfully handled without putting any unsolicited pressure.
As discussed, your subordinates do look up to you. So, if you expect them to behave in a particular manner, you must present the same behavior. For instance, if you desire absolute honesty from your employees, you should be honest and transparent with them. When transparency is a vital part of your office culture, the employees find it easy to trust you. This makes it easier for them to come up to you with any concerns and questions.
However, you must cautiously ensure that the transparency is not partial. It must extend equally to every member of the team. For instance, if there is mega news about any project or office success, the news should reach every member at once. You can email them or have them on a video conference to break it to them. In this manner, despite working remotely, they would feel important.
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Outcome over Activity
In all honesty, as a manager, it may get overwhelming for you to keep a tab on all the aspects of the work done by the team members remotely. But you know what? It is not required either. Your objective should never be to keep an eye on every little aspect, especially when your team is located in different corners of the country. Instead, your focus should always be on the outcome, over the hours they put in. You should be interested in the work done right, and not how and when they do it.
This also brings to a crucial aspect of managing remote employees – micromanagement. Merely assuming that since your employees are not sitting in the same office as you, they will slack, is wrong. At times, this leads to managers adopting a micromanaging behavior, which is often stressful for the employees and the managers. Do not pester them with continuous progress reports and communication. It makes the employees feel untrusted. So, keep your eyes on the goal, and together work towards the outcomes. Their work style should not be your concern if the goals are achieved.