We are in unprecedented times and now more people than ever are working from home, and managing teams of others doing so. Whilst undoubtedly every company would have loved to have robust business continuity procedures in place and be able to move all operations online successfully and efficiently at the click of a finger, we understand that that simply isn’t the case for many. But fear not: there are some ways you can support the management of remote colleagues without compromising on innovation, business development or market progress.
Increase your communications
When working across locations and not just sitting feet apart at desks, the primary method of communication between colleagues and managers is likely to become writing – on instant messengers and e-mails. In order to keep employees engaged (and in times like the present, not overcome with worry or fear), it’s imperative for communication channels to be open, honest and transparent. This is a difficult shift for some managers who are used to calling face-to-face meetings and informal one-on-one chats, but encouraging them to speak (type!) out little and often, as well as picking up the phone to check in regularly on their colleague's wellbeing, is vital. If you’re managing managers, amend their workloads to allow for extra time spent communicating with their team members.
Have trust in your teams
There is an attitude toward remote working from many that it is unreliable, believing that teams are unlikely to be as productive out of the office/off of the site as they would be when they’re in an office. This is, thankfully, a rapidly disappearing attitude and in situations like the current climate many organisations have no choice. Using technology, you can increase communication and engagement from anywhere and this is even more crucial now that the majority of your talent are working remotely. If you have hired well and continue to communicate with and engage your workforce, there is no reason to believe they won’t continue to contribute to the business as they did before. Sometimes even more so; because they recognise the value their contribution has.
Review performance and progress informally
When you’re not holed up in an office and able to see your colleagues coming and going, it can be difficult to achieve an overview of work being completed. It’s important to remember that just because it’s not as visible doesn’t mean it’s not happening! Checking in on project progress being made can be an entirely informal process and may even help nurture conversations around efficiency and improvements that otherwise would be left until ‘the next big meeting’.
Maintain open channels to ideas, feedback or concerns
Even if now isn’t the time for your business to take on an expensive new project, it may still be an important time to think creatively about the current ways of doing things. We’re in a period of massive change so encourage your teams to start sharing ways to adapt the business during this tough climate. Support your managers in efforts to gather ideas and empower employees to contribute ‘out of their role’ so that blue sky thinking happens all the time, even if positives coming out of it are parked and acted upon at a later date. Now isn’t the time for concerns to be bottled up until the next survey, help your colleagues open up about any worries they have, talk and be kind.