As we enter another lockdown, managing remote workers is continuing to be a challenge for managers.
Here are some ideas that you might find helpful, or serve as reminders:
Give them the right tools
Ensure that your team have the right technology for remote working such as: a reliable and secure internet connection; programmes/software required; remote access to your organisation’s network; knowledge of how to get IT support.
A tablet or laptop alone isn’t enough to help your team work remotely so don’t forget the rest of the workstation, do they have a suitable table or desk, chair, lighting etc? You can find workstation assessment tools here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ck1.htm
Stay in touch with diarised check-ins
When it comes to staying in touch, finding the right balance can be difficult. Leaving your team for too long without contact and it may make them feel isolated or ignored.
You will need to get the balance right between checking in with your employees and overcompensating with your communications. Not all meetings need to be about work. What about some social interactions such as a quiz?
Use cloud-based document storage
You won’t want hard drives getting clogged with data, which often can’t be shared easily. You could use cloud-based packages eg. Dropbox, Microsoft Onedrive, or Google Drive.
Communication – be clear and consistent
Clear, regular communication is absolutely key in managing remote teams well. Without face-to-face contact, remote communication can cause details to get lost in translation. Tell your team what needs to be done, rather than how you want it to be done (unless the worker needs detailed instruction on how it should be done). This working style can help to save you both time and can help you motivate your employees as well as demonstrating that you trust them to get on with the job.
Don’t overwhelm people with long lists. Encourage your remote employees to resolve problems on their own. (Some team members will need more guidance, of course).
Communicate in a variety of ways
For instance, follow up an email with a phone call to make sure your team understands what you’ve asked them to do. Try using one of the following: Slack, Outlook, Whatsapp, Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Importantly, make sure your team knows how valued they are by recognising and thanking them.
Ensure that your employees know when to step away from their desks. There can be a temptation for some to be always available when home and office are the same place. Encourage employees to work reasonable hours and to take reasonable breaks. Maybe consider having core hours?
Encourage your team to ask for help when needed, and be ready to provide support. They may struggle with some of the IT facilities, so you may need to provide training. They may struggle with isolation, or no longer feeling part of a team. Be conscious that not everyone loves working at home. Be aware of the problems that can crop up in the remote working scenario such as children being off of school, lack of space for a workstation, flatmates also working at home.
One size doesn’t fit all when managing remote teams so be aware of the tools available and the skills that you may need to hone to ensure that you have a happy and productive workforce.
HR Services Bristol provides advice and support to employers in the greater Bristol area. Call Tracey on 07855 023268. Initial consultations are free of charge.