In this post-COVID world, businesses across the country have shifted to remote work in a big way. What once seemed impossible is now the norm as many companies are seeing the benefits of keeping their employees at home. The transition is not always so easy for managers, however, because a shift in leadership skills is required to manage people they can’t see over a cubicle wall.
While the change may take some getting used to, it isn’t impossible. With a positive culture, constant and meaningful communication, and a motivational spirit, you can run your team as efficiently as you did in the office. Here are some tips to guide you in the right direction.
Communication is Key
When you can’t see your team face-to-face, constant, quality communication becomes more important than ever. Daily check-ins via phone, instant messenger, or email should be a part of the daily routine. These communications could include the tasks for the day and helpful tips or it could just be a chance to ask the employee how they are doing today. This routine will keep your team on track and will remind them that you are there if needed. Your leadership and teamwork skills will be incredibly important as a remote manager, so be sure to practice them often.
When possible, have meetings or check-ins over video. Sometimes, your agents may experience feelings of isolation when they are by themselves in their home, so a video conference will give them the face-to-face interaction that they enjoyed in the office. At least once a month, consider having a team meeting over video. This is an opportunity for everyone on your staff to see one another and connect like they used to. These don’t have to be all-businesses either. Instead, it could just be a fun gathering to blow off some steam.
Use technology to your advantage during these weekly meetings to get everyone on the same page. Consider using a virtual whiteboard to list everyone’s tasks for the week and provide the chance for your agents to cross off tasks as they complete them. This can also be a great tool for brainstorming sessions for your next big project. Make sure that everyone gets a chance to speak and contribute during these meetings.
As alluded to earlier, mental health can be a major factor as employees get used to working in a remote environment. The isolation and lack of physical contact can be tough for many folks, so management should be aware of anyone who is struggling. Communication is important in this regard but managers should also be aware of the non-vocal signs of fatigue. For instance, if you notice a reduction in productivity from a particular agent, reach out and ask the reason why and take any feedback you receive seriously and make necessary changes.
While you may see yourself as the guiding light of your team, it is important to understand that it is okay for leaders to be stressed as well. After all, you have a lot on your plate and many personalities to manage, so set yourself up for success by implementing some coping mechanisms. Make sure to get enough sleep every night and eat right and exercise whenever possible to keep your mind and body fresh. You can also reward yourself when you do something well, such as meet a sales goal. Treat yourself to a walk outside or a coffee to stay motivated.
When you work in an office, it is easier to see the clock read 5 o’clock and head out for the day, but when you are already home, ending the day is not always so easy. We tend to stay for longer hours since we are comfortable at home, but that can lead to burnout. As a manager, ensure a positive work/life balance for everyone on your team by setting the start and end of each workday in stone. Also, if an employee has a request to start later so they can help their children in the morning, consider allowing it as long as they complete their work.
Productivity When Remote
While it is important to be empathic, you also need to make sure that your team remains productive so that the business can continue to succeed. One way to provide your staff the initiative that they need is to show that you trust them by setting expectations and letting them work without resorting to micromanagement. Agents who see that mutual, professional respect from their manager will typically work harder to impress.
Managers can also ensure a productive team by providing pointers for setting up an efficient workspace. This starts by ensuring that your team has the computers and equipment to properly complete their job functions. Then, recommend an ergonomic chair and the right desk that will provide comfort without hurting their back. You might even suggest placing a plant or two in their office as the greenery has been found to increase productivity.
Finally, when it comes to creating a productive team, never forget the benefits of positive reinforcement. Whenever a team member meets a sales goal or receives a glowing review from a customer, send a public email congratulating them on a job well done. Small perks like gift cards or an extra day off will also do wonders for team optimism.
It does seem that the future of business is remote, so now is the time to perfect your evolving management style. Consider the tips above and come to work each day with an open mind, and you will have a successful team, regardless of where they work.
Make It Easy To Succeed
As a manager, you may be tasked with overseeing a team that is working remotely. This can be a challenge, but it is not impossible. With the right tools and strategies in place, you can make it easy for your employees to succeed while working from home.
One of the most important things you can do is to create a remote work policy. This policy should outline the expectations and procedures for working remotely. It should also include guidelines for communication, collaboration, and file sharing.
In addition to a policy, you will need to provide your employees with the necessary tools to be successful. These tools may include a laptop, a good internet connection, remote working software and tools for collaboration, and a way to communicate with the team.