The world has faced the COVID-19 pandemic for months now. Remote work, which everyone thought to be a temporary arrangement, has become much more permanent. Though some governments loosened restrictions and lifted the lockdown during the summer and early fall, the new wave of the virus has forced many countries including the United States to re-establish lockdowns.
Many organizations now see remote working as a logical precaution for their employees. Remote work is no longer an option but a necessity. Still, many managers and their team members are finding it difficult to adapt to this new work style, as they were not prepared for such a long duration.
If you are still facing difficulty in adjusting to this new norm, here are 7 tips that can help you overcome this issue and set yourself up for success.
1. Set clear expectations
Managers must outline expectations for their teams.
This includes defining the scope of work, outlining deliverables and setting deadlines for each task and project that the team is working on. Managers should also specify to employees working from home that they should be available for calls, chat and emails when required during working hours.
Gallup reported that 50% of workers don't understand what's expected of them. By setting expectations, you avoid confusion and misalignment across your company and as a result see higher employee engagement.
2. Avoid micromanagement and trust your team
In the past, companies were reluctant to embrace remote work because they weren't confident they'd see the same level of productivity as office work. Now that everyone is forced to be at home, it's easy for managers to micromanage their teams to make up for this. However, companies must also respect and trust their employees and believe that they will get the job done on time.
According to a survey conducted by Accountemps, 59 percent of the employees have worked under a manager who micromanaged. Of these, 55 percent reported that it hurt their productivity, while 68 percent claimed to have a decrease in their morale. Ultimately, both these negative effects lead to the larger problem of employee turnover.
It's not good practice for managers to continuously pester their subordinates to check what’s going on. Instead, both can agree on specific and measurable goals. If goals are met and deliverables are made on time, managers shouldn't worry too much about the where and how.
3. Provide your team with reliable tools
If employees working remotely are unable to download files, have audio issues during conference calls or receive incorrect meeting invites, then the organization has failed to meet the basic remote work requirements.
Equip the team with the right tools to help them stay connected and productive. Organizations can make use of remote team management software like Evernote and Rescue Time, messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Team and even video conferencing apps like Google Hangouts and Zoom meetings to help the employees in their work remotely.
4. Create effective communication strategies
In order to have a productive team while working from home, the organization needs to effectively communicate.
The advanced communication technology like instant messaging services or video conferencing can help to certain extent. However, mastering the art of communicating with your workers is of utmost priority.
Some ways to ensure effective communication with remote working employees include defining individual and team goals, creating collaboration opportunities, encouraging feedback and minimizing interruptions.
5. Ask your employees to have a dedicated office space
For ideal remote working conditions, it is not just enough to have a dedicated office space, but also two separate computers. One to be used for personal work and the other to be used strictly for office.
However, that's not possible for every company. Instead, mangers should recommend their employees have a separate room that to be used as a dedicated workspace. Doing so can help the employee keep the business-related activities in and friends, family and pets out during the business hours.
6. Provide emotional and steady support
Working from home can often contribute mental health struggles. Employers should make sure that their teams have emotional support to keep motivated and connected while working remotely.
Managers should show calm and upbeat demeanor towards their teams to foster a healthy environment. Managers should also implement a virtual employee recognition strategy and make time for individual check-ins to ensure their remote employees are engaged and motivated.
Companies should provide access to mental health resources, stress-relief exercises, and other means of support care if possible. At the very least, employers should be extra conscious of mental health and encourage employees to destress when needed.
7. Encourage your team to take regular breaks
While in office, breaks are programmed in. At home things might be different. Working solo, you can get caught up in work easily. Breaks become few and far between. This increases the stress of remote working and can lead to burnout.
Studies have shown that short breaks in between tasks can reduce stress and add to well-being in the workplace, and that's no different when working from home.
As such, it is essential that managers encourage their employees to take breaks, as it leads to higher productivity as well as improved mental health.
As long as governments impose lockdowns due to the rising of COVID cases and as long as there is no effective vccine, remote work is the safest option. Though this form of working has its own challenges, it has many advantages for the employees, managers as well as the organization as a whole. If employers are able to match the right job with the right person in the right environment, then the company will easily beat the odds to see success in any working environment.