Chief Marketing Officer at ProofHub
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt
So, remote working is no more your occasional instance where employees were granted leverage to work from home after much skepticism from the managers and bosses alike. Times have changed and now working from home is the new norm, and it’s here to stay for long.
Before the pandemic of COVID-19, about one-quarter of the US workforce was already working from home, but it was more of a part-time rather than regular, which is the case these days.
With uncertainty looming large, these numbers are bound to go up, not only in the United States but in all those countries severely affected by the novel coronavirus.
As a large number of businesses operate remotely, many employers are facing unique challenges.
As a Chief Marketing Officer at ProofHub, managing remote teams was not a new experience for me, but I did not have to do it as consistently as now. So, I realized quickly that I will have to double my efforts to ensure my remote team stays productive, feels inclusive, and more importantly never feels left out of the pack.
Here, I have listed down seven effective experts-backed strategies that have proven excellent with my team. Execution of these tried and tested tips will help managers to keep productivity and motivation high when every member of their teams is working from home.
1. Establish Daily Check-ins With Employees
From daily team meetings to sharing lunch with colleagues to watercooler conversations, a traditional office space provides ample opportunities for everyone to have more facetime with each other. Without in-person interactions, remote employees can easily feel isolated and left out from the pack.
In days of remote working, establishing daily or near-daily check-ins with team members is important to make them feel inclusive, needed, and appreciated. Team managers can schedule daily virtual meetings, at a fixed time, through the communication tool of their choice to have both professional and casual talks with employees.
Using video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype is highly recommended over phone calls or emails so that participants can be both seen and heard.
2. Take Advantage of Various Forms of Communication Tools
For team managers of the digital age, it’s not when but how you communicate with your team that matters. The option of using phone calls, texting, and long email threads is still there, but the latest internal communication tools with advanced features have made communication so much easier, faster, and more personalized.
Tech-savvy managers utilize technology to great effect. We have video conferencing apps like Google Team, Slack, and Zoom, instant messaging apps like Basecamp, WeChat, Line, and document sharing tools like Google Drive and Dropbox. Managers can choose what tool to communicate with the team and when, based on different factors like time available, level of engagement, nature of the topic to be discussed, etc.
3. Encourage Employees to Set Up a Dedicated Workspace
“Choose a spot in your home for the office. It’s ok if it doesn’t have a door, but it should be away from distractions.”
I know it’s not easy to replicate the office environment, but make sure you and your team members set themselves up to work comfortably and efficiently, without being lazy during working hours. Make a list of work from home essentials and forward it to your team.
At ProofHub, we provide our employees (upon request) with the tools and equipment to make the transition as smooth as possible.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
While managing virtual teams, create realistic expectations for their work when it comes to defining working hours or assigning project deliverables. Clearly state the tasks and responsibilities of every team member, and make your team understand exactly how you will measure their performance.
Everyone must have clarity regarding the project. At the same time, once you’ve assigned tasks to team members make sure you let them work at their own pace, without interfering in their work. When goals are well-defined, there are minimal chances of confusion creeping into the workflow.
5. Make Sure Your Team Is Equipped With The Right Technology
Remote working is not just about having a dedicated workspace and a hardworking team; use of the right technology is of paramount importance to ensure the work is done smartly and efficiently. Make sure to check out on your team if they already have a laptop, reliable and speedy internet connection, and software.
As a manager, it is your responsibility to simplify the way remote work is done. Using a feature-rich project management software, for example, can help managers, teams, and clients easily collaborate on a common single platform and keep everyone in the loop. When your team is well-equipped with the latest technology, it will help the entire workforce to achieve more in less time.
6. Check Their Work/Life Balance Is Not Tilted Either Way
The increased flexibility of WFH does not always guarantee a more balanced life. Many people end up working overtime, which leads to diminished work/life boundaries. Remote workers often experience high work intensity due to regular communication with colleagues through their devices at any time.
As a manager, you need to tell your team that they should not let the pressure of work upset their personal lives. Let them know you respect their right to disconnect at the end of the workday. Define working hours, if possible, and ask employees not to work overtime. Encourage them to share their work-related concerns and be empathic while helping them.
7. Measure Performance By Results, Not The Activity
Understand that in the current scenario, your team members have so many things to take care of. We all are facing turbulent times and we all worry about the safety of our near and dear ones. Your team is no different; some people might seem to be less active than others, but that’s not how their performance should be measured.
An employee may punch in for 8 hours and still may not match the productivity of someone who appears online for 7 hours. Trust your team, give them the flexibility and freedom to work on a schedule that best suits them to be at their productive best.
In other words, measure them by the output, not by the hours they clock on the desk.
By and Large
As any team manager will tell you, the sudden shift in company culture is not easy to come to terms with, especially with workers dispersed across various geographical locations and time zones. However, deliberate efforts can help to keep your workforce productive and connected, while allowing them certain leverage to do things at their own pace.
I am sure using these seven valuable tips will go a long way in delivering the best results for you, your team, and the entire organization. Good luck!
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