Ok, so it might not be ideal for businesses to have all, or perhaps most, of their staff working from home, but in a country-wide lockdown situation, there are no other choices. So as a responsible business owner, who wants to carry on trading, what can you do to ensure you and your managers provide the right levels of support and communication to keep your employees happy, engaged and productive?
Research suggests that remote working can benefit you as a manager and your organisation as a whole. Essentially remote workers put in more hours per week because they enjoy what they do when compared to on-site workers. And let’s face it it’s not difficult to see why, zero commute, better work life balance and the flexibility to work to their own schedule in the comfort of their own home.
But whilst some might find home working enjoyable and take to it quickly, you need to be mindful of those who may be struggling with the lack of face to face contact, feelings of isolation, absence of team members on hand to help and of course lack of focus and direction leading to a fall in productivity.
However, there are some solutions, many of which are relatively quick and inexpensive to implement:
- Make sure their workspace is set up well and that they feel comfortable working in it. If you have the budget, you could ask them to purchase a work chair or something else that means they like being in their new dedicated place of work. Check that they have a quiet space to work, which is not disturbed by other family members. Any issues with broadband speed or inferior software or hardware should be dealt with early on.
- Establish structured and regular daily/weekly check-ins, or one to ones, as a forum where employees know they can talk to you and any concerns or questions can be dealt with effectively. We suggest providing different communication channels including email, video conferencing and of course the good old-fashioned telephone.
- In conjunction with your employees set expectations, accountability and responsibilities. This will ensure that they know what they should be doing, when and how their performance will be monitored and measured.
- Provide opportunities for remote social interaction. This could be time at the end of weekly calls to discuss non-work items, or you could host virtual coffee mornings, after work drinks, office parties etc. These types of online events promote a sense of belonging and purpose.
- Set up employee development plans so they know you are taking their job path/career progression seriously. Arrange more learning and development opportunities, so they can enhance their skills. Remember to offer consistent encouragement, motivation and emotional support. Ask frequent probing questions, listen to any concerns and empathise with their struggles.
Obviously there are many other way in which you can improve the morale and wellbeing of your employees, but once you understand that remote employees are faced with unique challenges you will be much more able to manage them and in turn become a better manager.
Investing in your employees now will ensure they are better prepared for a world where remote work may become the norm. It will also make them more loyal and perhaps mean they will want to stay longer at your organisation.
For advice, guidance and support when it comes to managing a remote workforce, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01327