The way we work has changed significantly in the past few years. With advancements in technology, the idea of working from home has become more popular. Remote work is here to stay, and more and more organizations are beginning to embrace it. Managers and supervisors must adapt to this new workstyle to ensure their employees are supported and engaged. In this blog post, we will discuss the key strategies for managers to support their employees in a work from home environment.
Establish goals and expectations
Establishing goals and expectations is key to any successful work environment. When employees are working remotely, it becomes even more important. Managers need to set clear objectives and deadlines for their workers. This not only helps to keep everyone on track but also ensures that everyone knows what they’re working towards.
One of the most significant challenges in remote work is the assumption employees can work flexibly without a clear structure. Clear and concise goals are indispensable for remote employees so that they can stay focused and avoid distractions while working from home. Well-defined targets enable remote workers to plan their schedules and manage their time to enhance productivity.
It is also essential to make sure goals align with organizational objectives, are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound), and are communicated effectively. Ensure that employees understand the objectives and are clear about their roles and expectations. It is important to be transparent and communicate objectives and performance expectations to remote workers during the onboarding process.
Communication is key
Effective communication is vital in any work environment, but it even more critical when working remotely. Managers must ensure that everyone is regularly communicating through video conferencing, phone, chat, or email. It is essential to foster a sense of connection and team spirit, which can be missed when working remotely.
Without daily in-person interactions and social cues, remote workers can feel detached, isolated, or disconnected. Encouraging frequent, individual video calls with remote employees can help bridge the social gap and help managers gain insight into the workers’ mindsets.
It is essential to establish a communication protocol that outlines how employees will communicate during their work from home period. Whether it is through email, chat, phone, or conferencing tools, managers must ensure that employees understand the protocol and why it is in place. In addition, without regular in-person conversations, feedback and performance reviews should be conducted online.
Regular check-ins are necessary to strengthen connections with remote employees by showing interest and care in their welfare. Managers should encourage employees to share their work plans, concerns, and progress regularly, and ensure that they are aware of current events or any changes that may affect the company. Managers can also encourage interaction between workers by organizing virtual social events, quizzes, competitions, and group chats. These virtual social events do not only improve employees’ morale but also help to foster a feeling of belongingness to the team.
Provide necessary resources
When employees are working remotely, it is essential to ensure that they have all the necessary resources they need to be successful. Managers need to establish a system for employees to access company files, software, and other tools they require. Additionally, it’s imperative to ensure employees have access to a reliable internet connection, laptops or computers, headsets or earphones, printers or scanners, and all other necessary equipment.
It is also crucial to ensure that employees’ devices are patched regularly, and antivirus software is installed to prevent cyberattacks since working remotely can amplify the risk of cyberattacks. Organizations must provide guidance and support to prevent cybersecurity risks, primarily by communicating policies and guidelines that employees should follow about phishing attacks, stalkerware, social engineering, and email scams that are more prevalent in remote work settings.
Training and support from other team members or the IT helpdesk team are also essential. Remote workers must feel confident that their IT and other issues, such as connectivity and troubleshooting, can be immediately resolved. A comprehensive remote work plan should include the details on the standard procedures for seeking support and the contact details of IT support personnel.
Furthermore, managers must ensure that remote employees are aware of the company’s security and confidentiality policies to avoid security breaches. The misuse of company information could lead to irreparable reputational and legal damage to the company.
Encourage Breaks and Time Off
Working from home can be overwhelming and isolating at times, especially if employees feel they must be “on” 24/7. Managers need to encourage their staff to take breaks throughout the day and step away from their computer screens. Additionally, employees should be encouraged to take their time off, which means flexible schedules and availing themselves of their vacation leaves.
This helps to ensure that employees remain healthy, motivated, and engaged, and it shows that the company supports their well-being. Remote employees should be encouraged to make the mental transition from work to home life, even though they don’t need to physically commute from work. Encouraging remote workers to take a walk or engage in physical activity during breaks can help them recharge and stay focused during work.
Managers can encourage their employees to take breaks by proposing that they work with a regular schedule, take short breaks between meetings, and stand up, walk around, or engage in a quick exercise routine. Managers can support their staff by providing access to wellness programs such as mental health programs, counseling services, or any other health and wellness initiatives.
Furthermore, managers must avoid sending work-related messages or emails outside the regular work hours to avoid burnout. With remote work, it is easy to fall into the trap of working around the clock, and it should be avoided at all costs.
Build a Culture of Trust
Trust is the foundation of every successful relationship, whether personal or professional. In a remote work environment, trust becomes even more critical. Managers need to lead by example and trust their employees to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
This means opting for results-driven performance rather than micromanaging their work. It also means being available when needed but not hovering over their shoulders every minute of the day. Building a culture of trust within the team ensures everyone believes they are valuable members of the team, and they are more likely to be engaged and motivated.
One of the best ways to build trust with a remote team is to foster an environment of transparency and accountability. It is essential to establish clear expectations, communicate them effectively, and hold everyone accountable for their results. Managers can provide feedback and recognition to their employees’ efforts to reinforce the culture of trust, collaboration, and transparency. Additionally, recognizing remote workers’ work for clients or the organization via online chats or publicly through email can help employees feel more appreciated and recognized for their contributions.
It is essential to encourage remote employees to share their feedback and concerns, and actively listen to them. In a virtual setting, employees may not have an opportunity to be as forthcoming as they would be in person, so managers should make a conscious effort to create safe spaces to discuss any concerns or feedback.
Provide opportunities for professional growth
Remote work can make it difficult for employees to have a clear understanding of the company’s culture and advancement opportunities. However, this does not mean that remote work employees should be left out of initiatives that can help them grow professionally. Managers need to take the initiative to provide remote employees with the opportunities to enhance their skills, knowledge, and experience.
Managers should ensure that remote workers are well-informed about the company’s culture and mission. Sharing reading materials, company artifacts, and updated assessments with employees can help them feel connected and informed about the organization’s progress. Managers should also check in with remote workers about their professional goals and aspirations and discuss career development opportunities to achieve these goals. They can enroll remote employees to attend online training or virtual courses to hone their skills and knowledge.
Chances for participation in team-building exercises, virtual meetings, or corporate events, even if they involve travel or time zone differences, can help remote workers feel integrated into company life. Enabling a meeting point for remote employees to discuss and share interests other than work can also be of immense help in building a connection to colleagues.
As we continue to adapt to remote working environments, effective management practices are more important than ever. Managers must set clear goals, communicate regularly, provide necessary resources, encourage breaks, and build a culture of trust. Leading with empathy, actively listening, and fostering a sense of community even while working remotely are also significant factors in managing a successful remote team.
With these strategies, remote work can be just as effective as working in an office, and employees can enjoy a healthier work-life balance. Remote work provides employees with the flexibility to manage their work and personal lives, and it allows organizations to access a wider pool of talent from different locations. By providing strong support systems, managers can help remote workers achieve higher levels of productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction while maintaining the company’s culture and sending the message that remote talent is appreciated and valued.