In the midst of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, companies across the world are having to move business online and begin to manage employees remotely as they adjust to working from home. Here are just some of the best practices remote team managers should aim to follow:
Provide Time for Small Talk and Remote Social Interaction
Without the usual workplace environment to provide socialisation among employees, it is your responsibility as a manager of a remote team to find ways to facilitate remote social interactions. This can be as simple as setting aside the first few minutes of each video call meeting to talk about non-work-related topics, allowing team members to catch up with each other before getting to work.
While the current situation limits employees’ opportunities for socialisation, there are still ways to compensate. Many successful team managers who have been handling remote workers long before the world went into lockdown swear by virtual events. This could be hosting parties via video calls and even sending ‘party care packages’ or delivering pizza to each employee to get everyone involved.
Offer Emotional Support and Advice
This is particularly important for employees who have had to abruptly transition to remote work. Make sure to openly acknowledge the specific stresses and concerns that come with working remotely and check on how each employee is adjusting to the change. Paulette Sikora, an HR specialist at Let’s Go And Learn, explains: “This also means setting a good example by being open about how you personally handle anxiety and challenges and being a voice of confidence and reassurance to keep morale high.”
Encourage Self-Care to Tackle Loneliness
Employees can quickly go stir crazy from being forced to stay inside without the usual escape that remote workers have. Encourage self-care, taking daily walks, and exercising and/or practising yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices to help team members avoid getting cabin fever. Remember that they may need help structuring their day so that they can separate their work lives from their home lives.
Have More One-On-Ones
Having one-on-one conversations with team members is vital. This is the time to receive feedback, talk about how they are handling their new workspace and schedule, and generally ask about both personal and work-related issues and allow them to voice their thoughts. This is important to help decrease stress, anxiety, and frustration, by providing support throughout the team.
While it is essential to ensure the needs of the team are met, you will also need to focus on individuals – keep them updated and help them stay organised. It is also crucial to never cancel one-on-one – your team members need to feel like they have a sense of structure, now more than ever, and can rely on you to guide them through this transition.
Establish Daily Check-ins with Each Employee
Make a habit of checking in on a daily basis with each employee – this could be through individual calls, group video calls, or any other method of your choosing. Whatever it is, it is crucial that it is regular, frequent, and predictable. Make sure they know it is a place where they can voice concerns, questions, and receive consultation. Establish a schedule early on, so you team can know exactly what to expect and can structure their workday with that in mind.
Establish Rules and Expectations for Calls and Conversations
For more efficient remote work, set clear expectations for communication including frequency, means, scheduling, and behaviour/organisation once on a call. Be clear which channels of communication are for various types of communication, such as group video calls for daily check-ins and project updates, instant messages for immediate/urgent business, and email for other standard work-related communications. Kim Williams, a business writer says: “Be clear about your availability, too – and let them know how to reach you in an emergency situation.”
Establish these expectations as early on as you can, ideally in the first group meeting you have once remote working has been implemented to ensure everyone is on the same page. Stay positive and remember that your employees are all adjusting to a new and unpredictable world of working from home – it is up to you to help them learn to navigate it.
Author: Bea Potter – Business Writer