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Roughly one-third of American adults have spent time working from home as a result of the pandemic. While it has been a challenge for many of us to work from home due to childcare or other interruptions, managers have bad an even higher challenge managing employees from afar. This article provides some advice on how to best manage employees in the remote work setting.
Technology and Equipment
Have policies for working from home.
It is helpful to have a central guide for employees in the handbook on these processes and procedures.
Master teleworking technology.
If you have an interview or meeting scheduled and it is your first time using a platform, it is best to do a trial run to ensure you are comfortable with the available features before your scheduled appointment. Managers ought to encourage their team members to do the same.
Make sure employees have what they need.
Ensure that employees have the devices and supplies necessary to do their job. Create a process for ordering necessary supplies to employees’ remote work locations.
There are a wide range of products and apps that can track employee activity or allow employees to track their own tasks to help them stay on track and inform their managers what they are working on.
Establish communication protocol.
Employees need to know when they are expected to contact colleagues and supervisors and what means of communication (telephone, email, instant message, video call) they should use to make contact.
Implement a daily call or virtual meeting at a consistent time.
This facilitates questions and answers, as well as discussion on key matters. Consistent meetings also provide structure to the workday.
Promote social engagement.
When employees have personal relationships with colleagues they feel more invested in their job on the whole. Managers need to make a point to facilitate social interaction among team members, even if it is just a few minutes catching up over a video call, so that all employees feel like a team member.
If you are on a call with one employee, and another employee ought to be consulted, link them into the current conversation instead of conferring with them later.
Take control of meetings.
Keep meetings efficient and brief so that video calls do not take up time unnecessarily. Do not permit one employee to take over the conversation.
So long as employees are tracking hours accurately and focusing on tasks during their working hours, flexibility may minimize distractions and prevent employees from feeling pulled in many directions at once, particularly if they are caring for young or ailing household members.
Encourage career development.
Assign tasks to employees that help them further their interests and hone their skills.
Assign tasks early in the workday when possible.
This allows for a fresher mindset and helps maintain normal work hours for employees and supervisors.
Use outcomes as a productivity measure.
When trying to manage employees whose activities you cannot see in person, it is best to measure their productivity by outcomes. This allows supervisors and managers alike to focus on the tasks assigned to them.
Managers may be hesitant to deliver constructive guidance over the phone. However, this is crucial to employee improvement and prevents them from feeling surprised by criticism later during performance reviews.
And solicit feedback.
Ask employees if they have any suggestions on how to improve working remotely as a team.
Be transparent about change.
Even if making small adjustments to organization practice, it’s best to keep all employees informed.