Remote working looks like it is going to be here to stay. Changes to how employees work that was already due were propelled into the limelight due to the 2020 pandemic, and remote working has proved so successful that many companies are changing their business model to fit remote workers. It makes sense – employees working from home often prefer to maintain remote working, as it allows them to work in their own time and in their own style, which will enable them to be more productive.
However, home-working also requires more self-direction. You don’t have an office environment to encourage you, and you don’t have the option to keep in touch with other workers at the water cooler. This means effective management is very important. If you are managing a remote team, your purpose as a manager will remain the same, but the realities of managing a remote team are very different from managing office-based staff. It requires a different managerial toolkit of skills and considerations.
Be Outcome Orientated
It has become commonly accepted among the virtual workplace community that you need to change your management style. You need to become more focused on your employees’ output and start managing your expectations about how much you can effectively micromanage. You should prioritize defining goals and the results that you want, with the understanding that if your employees have the training and resources to pull off your task, they will execute their own plan in their own way. This is a good thing because pulling back the reins in that way enhances creativity and self-purpose.
Implement Listening Strategies
Listening is a particularly hard skill to master for managers of remote teams. That is why it is important to come in with an attitude that is listening-focused. It’s pretty tough to pick up on the non-verbal communication signs that you normally rely on as a manager, so you need to think outside the box when planning listening strategies. There is a lot of research pointing towards the fact that employees who feel heard are almost 500% more likely to perform at their best, be engaged, and ultimately be more productive. A great way to do this is by running a pulse survey. Pulse surveys are like you putting your finger on your employees’ pulse, giving you insights into how the health and wellbeing of your employees and how engaged and productive they are.
Communication between team members has a large impact on everything from employee wellbeing to the innovations produced by your employees. It is very important to encourage open and laissez-faire communication between members of your remote teams. There are many ways that managers can encourage communication:
- Take advantage of communication technology like Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Slack and encourage employees to use them
- Host group meetings
- Downtime meetups are a great way of making sure your employees don’t feel too lonely. You could suggest employees schedule coffee dates or try to plan virtual team-building events like online cooking classes
Communication has a huge impact on remote working culture and employee wellbeing and can help avoid workplace loneliness (which research shows has a big impact on job performance).
By nature, people are social creatures, so remote work can be difficult, especially for those who are new to it. It is important to remember that everyone will deal with remote work differently. Show empathy as a manager. That doesn’t mean allowing slacking-off the whole time but practicing a little bit of patience and understanding. – it is sure not to go unnoticed by your team members.