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How to manage your remote workers

During lockdown, the majority of the workforce has been forced into a work from home scenario. For some individuals this may be an ideal situation as they have already started working from home in a temporary capacity but for many it may be a new experience which they need to adapt to. But how can you manage your remote team effectively?

Let us first take a look at what are the main complaints from remote workers.

Isolation and loneliness

Many remote workers may feel isolated and lonely, especially if the idea to work remotely was not theirs. When people work in an office, there is always an opportunity for a little interaction with people around the coffee machine or bumping into someone in the corridor. This doesn’t happen for remote workers so they may feel more isolated and lonely.

Lack of face-to-face supervision

Managers are scared that employees won’t work as hard or efficiently from home but research has shown that people who work from home are more efficient and hardworking. On the other hand, employees feel that they don’t have enough access to help from managers and communication with managers. This may lead to them not feeling valued and that managers don’t care for them as people but rather as robots who are hired to just complete a job.

Lack of access to information

Employees may get frustrated with not being able to walk over to a colleague’s desk to get a quick answer for a question they may have. They may feel that it takes a lot more effort to access the information that they will need to complete their tasks.

With these complaints in mind, here are five ways to manage your remote workers effectively.

1. Communicate clearly and often

It is advisable to have a weekly check-in meeting to see how your remote workers are doing. During this time it is important to have a few minutes for general conversation before you start with getting down to business. This will give time for you and your colleagues to build trust and rapport with each other. You can highlight the different methods of communication that the business will be using and what information is appropriate to share through each method of communication. You should have a document which clearly states when people can send an instant message or text and when a video or audio call is appropiate. Video calls are best suited for times when discussing intricate topics or where miscommunication could cause a big problem. It is also important to note that 56% of communication is done through non-verbal actions and therefore when using audio and text a lot of the intent of a message can be lost or misinterpreted.

2. Organise one-on-one conversations:

Beside weekly check-ins with your whole team, you should organise one-on-one meetings with each of your team members to discuss their work and to see how they are progressing. Furthermore, this can be an opportunity to see how your employees are coping with the new norm. If they bring up issues you can help them to navigate through these uncertain times.This is an ideal time to get to know your employees better and to build trust and rapport with them.

3. Set clear objectives

You should not judge your employee’s performance on how active they are on email and in meetings but rather if they are achieving the goals you have set for them. In a standard work situation, people are judged on their performance for their presence at work but this can’t be accurately evaluated in a remote workplace so performance needs to be evaluated by how well goals are achieved and if deadlines are missed.

4. Arrange virtual social gatherings

People like to feel like they are part of a group and you can arrange virtual social gatherings by having a pizza night where the company delivers pizza to each colleague at a specific time. You could organise a happy hour once a week where your colleagues meet and chat. This time should mainly be social.

5. Individualise your approach

People who work remotely have different ways of working and this should be taken into account. You should be aware that some people love remote working while others may hate it. When dealing with remote workers, it is also important to realise that some people may be working in different time zones.  If you have someone whose time zone is at a very different time to the majority of the team, you should try to accommodate this colleague from time to time so that everyone can be a bit empathetic to everyone’s situation.

By following these five ways you should be able to manage your remote workers efficiently and effectively.

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