Working remotely: how to make it work in your favour

Thought of the day

17/03/2020

With COVID-19, a need for new ways of working has arisen. Managers are now confronted with the concept of their employees working remotely. For those unfamiliar with it, this can pose challenges, negatively affecting productivity and even team morale.  

Is your company prepared to work from home or remotely? Here’s a small selection of simple practices managers can implement right now to get the most out of remote working. Who knows, you might even see the various benefits it brings and incorporate it in your company culture in the future! 

Off course, working remotely is not a new trend. Data show that, across the globe, working from home and remote locations has grown continuously. Still, many managers remain nervous about embracing it, since it doesn’t allow for much oversight (after all, remote workers have ample opportunity to slack off, no?). Happily, this is a myth; on the contrary, ‘remotes’ as they are called, work longer hours and are more productive. So how do you make remote work, work for you? 

Implement these 4 practices when remote working with your teams.  
 

Establish clear agreements with your remotes 

 

With physical distance, there comes a lag in communication. After all, when working remotely an employee can’t just pop into your office (or shout a question from across the desk), to get confirmation that he/she may proceed in handling a client’s request or get that article approved for publication. This is when it becomes vital to have guidelines in place. To avoid miscommunication and errors, be upfront and clear about expectations.  

 

Maintain a close rapport regardless of distance 

 To help remote workers feel connected to the company without them actually being there, must be an almost insurmountable challenge, right? Well, no. There are few practical agreements you can make with your team. 

For instance get everyone in the team to make use of status notifications (on Microsoft Teams or a similar platform).  This way, everyone knows instantly whether someone is at lunch, on a call, in a meeting, working on an assignment etc. 

Additionally, try to plan for regular, informal 1-on-1 talks (with video), so you have the proper tools to assess the physical and mental state of your employees. 

 
Evaluate performance 

 

As mentioned before, managers’ fears that staff working remotely are less efficient are often unfounded. Yet they don’t have as good a view on what remotes are doing at any given time. That’s when performance expectations need to be formulated. Take a moment to lay out in as much detail as possible  what output you’re looking for and additional instructions. Afterwards, ask if the employee understands, and follow it right up with a written summary to prevent misunderstandings. To check in on the status of a task or project, use screen sharing technology, so you can actually see what it is they are working on, and can give helpful feedback.  Task and project management tools are invaluable in keeping an overview of what work is done and which is not. Make the investment. Trust us, it’s worth it. 

 

Team meeting... By remote

 

How do you keep everyone engaged and make them feel included when holding remote/digital team meetingsApplying these simple techniques to the processyou can give everyone the metaphorical seat at the table! 

  • It goes without saying any tech-related issues need to be anticipated and prepared for. Sound checks, making sure everyone is using their cameraasking those with unreliable internet connections to call also by phone (while muting their computer audio), to mute themselves when not speaking, and making use of shared visuals are all ways to smoothen the process. 
  • Without the use of body language, you actively need to use your voice to seek out comments from more shy individuals, as dominant ones need little prompting! Address them by name and ask for their input (e.g. “Anna, can you give your view on this?”). 
  • Assure yourself of the participants’ involvement by regularly seeking feedback on how the discussion is progressing. This staves off boredom and prevents people tuning out. 

 

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