6 Tips for Managing A Remote Workforce

6 Tips for Managing Remote Employees

Remote work is amongst some of the immediate changes’ businesses have had to face due to the impacts of COVID-19. Now you find yourself feeling out of your comfort zone with how quickly you’ve had to adjust to managing your team remotely. While it can seem scary, the fact is that the demand for remote work has been growing long before the impacts of COVID-19. Remote work has received its fair share of pushback and reluctance to date. But despite the negatives we have all heard, we believe these are far outweighed by the positives. If you are thinking or you have already implemented remote work, consider these 6 simple solutions for managing modern remote workers.

1. Keep Employees Engaged

Many of our clients and employers we have spoken with, have believed that productivity can only occur when all employees are in the same location, are engaged, and in close proximity to foster collaboration and creativity. But as we know through research, case studies, millennials and the new modern worker ~ being in one location does not necessarily mean you have an engaged or productive employee.

As an employer you know what’s tricky – spotting disengaged employees. You know what is even trickier – spotting disengaged remote employees, where you rarely have access to body language and attentiveness.

Silence, complacency and absenteeism are three tell-tale signs that your staff could be becoming disengaged. This could take the form of silence on team zoom calls, over email or missing meetings altogether. It could also look like missed deadlines or a decline in work quality.

It’s important to be intentional when it comes to connecting with your employee which will also make it easier to recognise if they are becoming disengaged.

Here’s some ideas on how to keep staff engaged when working remotely:

  • Have regular one on one conversations with your employee diving into what’s going on for them, discussing the bigger picture and importance of their work, finding out what drives them and coaching them towards their goals.
  • Ask them about their recent successes and give them recognition and appreciation in team meetings where possible.
  • Encourage team members to connect regularly with “water cooler” slack or zoom chats or take time to recognise each other for their successes.

2. Trust your Employees and Provide them with Tools  

“How can I monitor my employee when they are working from home”- I have been asked this question by every single one of my clients in the past fortnight. There’s no debate that remote employees are yes, harder to monitor. A work culture with a strong foundation is built on open communication and trust. Learning to trust your workers to be productive while working remotely can be a difficult but necessary step. People want to do good work and trust is vital to having productive and happy staff.

In saying that, it’s important to put systems and tools in place to keep everyone on track and on task. We love using project management tools like Monday.com or Asana to set clear tasks and deadlines. This way the whole team is on the same page, knows what needs to be completed and by when, and can see the bigger picture of what they are working towards.

Another way to help remote workers stay productive is by having a quick team call or zoom conference to start the day. Let everyone have their moment to let the team know what they’re working on that day, how they are going, if any challenges have come up and to celebrate and appreciate them and their achievements.

Thirdly, encourage your team to try focus sprints. A focus sprint requires you to focus on one task at a time with no distractions. Set a specific goal for your sprint. Work on it for 90 minutes and then take a 20-30 minute break. You can perform several focus sprints per day, just ensure to have one goal each sprint. Another popular method for this is the Pomodoro Technique. You can find more information about the Pomodoro Technique here.

3. Appreciate and Recognise Employees

Today, it is not just as easy as “I am working from home”. To use myself as an example, my son is home from childcare to help flatten the curve. I have to juggle work with his education and standard 2-year-old behaviour of wanting my attention 24/7. This is a challenge in itself. Employees in my situation or others similar need appreciation now more than ever!

Showing appreciation for your employees and celebrating their milestones and achievements makes them feel valued as a person and gives them the added confidence in their skills and knowledge.

Some ways you can do this is via team communication channels such as slack, in the daily team meetings, during one on one phone calls or by sending them a card or practical gift in the mail.

Showing appreciation for your team and workers makes a huge difference in employee engagement, productivity, culture, and quality of work. We highly recommend prioritising appreciation and recognition in your remote team.
 
4. “Water Cooler” Chats

Yes – “Water Cooler” chats are good for business and the culture! In an office environment you and your employees have so much opportunity to connect and have impromptu conversations. These opportunities have now disappeared when working remotely but are important as they strengthen the relationships of the team outside of a standard work function. Rather these chats are building connections based on shared interests and aid to enriching the working relationship.

Isolation, detachment, lacking in personal connection – these are current challenges we are faced with. Virtual water cooler chats will support the engagement of your employees and their health and wellbeing.

We ask you to think about what you can do to create these casual interactions while your staff are working remotely, and some in complete isolation.

A great option for this is setting up a communication tool like Slack. Slack helps your team to connect more regularly and in a more casual way than over email. Utilise the group chat feature to help the team stay connected as a whole (And have a laugh where appropriate!)

Another idea we have implemented with a client recently, is scheduled water cooler chats. Using a randomiser tool with names, the digital tool pairs up 2 to 3 employees and initiates a zoom room at a particular time / date. These employees are free to discuss what they would like in the zoom room. It is not compulsory to participate, but leadership and the culture drives the importance of these conversations which has allowed us to see most employees engaging in the rooms.

5. Still Provide Employee Feedback

We have seen a lot of misunderstanding around feedback. We have found clients deliver feedback only when an improvement needs to occur. Feedback does not only need to occur when something needs to be corrected. Make sure you counter constructive feedback (improvements) with positivity.

Encourage employees to ask for feedback from their peers and develop a culture where employees are open to receiving feedback, both positive and constructive. Staying connected, coordinated and embracing a sense of community will allow teams to collaborate more and work more efficiently.

As a manager be sure to book in regular one on one meetings with your team members where you can provide regular feedback and check in with them. Ask them what is going well for them, what is challenging them and where you can provide more support.

Positive HR’s tip is to read “Work Smarter: Live Better”. Our team at Positive HR adopts the structured Speak to Review time strategy and for 2 years it has been extremely effective.

6. Healthy Body. Healthy Mind.

When working from home it’s easy to let our physical activity slip. We lose the accidental exercise we usually get when commuting to and from the office or even just walking around the office. We all know the benefits physical activity has on our ability to focus and be productive at work. That’s why encouraging your employees to stay active is important.

Some ways you can help employees stay active are to organise a virtual yoga class that everyone can participate in or putting together a step count challenge with a prize or making sure that employees take regular breaks where they’re encouraged to get active even if this is doing 30 star jumps outside!  

Experts recommend getting up from your desk to move around every 30 minutes whether that be for a quick stretch or a trip to the bathroom or kitchen. Think about how you, as a manager, can encourage and foster more physical activity when working remotely.

While it is unclear on how long employees may need to work remotely due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, we do know how important it is to provide a remote working environment where workers clearly understand how their work contributes to the overall success of the business, and remain engaged through regular feedback and development opportunities. Get this right and you might find down the track that your employees are more productive working remotely than they were working in the office.

Review and purchase our HR Documents to ensure you understand your obligations with managing a remote workforce and have the appropriate documents in place.

enquiries@positivehr.com.au or +61 404 922 125

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