As the current situation compels companies to conduct business outside the office, working remotely has become increasingly common. Remote work is challenging not only for employees, but for business managers as well. In addition to maintaining your professional website, selling products, and engaging with customers from home, you also need to ensure that your employees are supported and informed, even when you don’t share the same workspace.
As a leader in your company, it’s up to you to help your remote workers feel part of the team. By taking active steps to keep them in the loop and show them you care, you can foster a strong sense of team motivation that keeps your employees happy and your business thriving.
This complete guide will go over the challenges of remote work and offer detailed advice on how to overcome them:
Challenges of working remotely
In order to understand how to better support your team during these times, it’s first important to identify the specific challenges your remote workers may be facing. These challenges include:
Minimal team interaction
A lack of face-to-face interaction with managers and team members can result in employees feeling disconnected and out of touch.
Lack of access to information
The complexities of remote communication can make employees feel there’s something they don’t know, or that they’re not up-to-date on the latest tasks.
Feelings of loneliness
Employees may feel isolated while working remotely, as they miss opportunities for casual social interaction.
Distractions such as kids, pets, and the TV sometimes reduce productivity while working from home.
Overwork and burnout
On the flip side, the merging of home and professional life can result in burnout, as employees may exceed their usual daily working hours and forget to take breaks.
Though remote team management comes with several challenges, the good news is that managers can meet their employees’ needs in just a few simple steps. These 7 easy-to-implement tips will help your team feel connected and empowered.
01. Choose the right communication platforms
The first consideration in managing your remote employees is determining the right way to communicate with them. Use workplace-specific communication channels to ensure that employees have an organized system for professional communication and that work messages are clearly distinguished from personal ones.
You can choose from hundreds of tools to make communication seamless and easy for your employees. These tools include:
Be sure your communication technology is consistent for all your employees and that each person is properly trained in how to use the various platforms. You should also establish clear expectations for communication. For example, make it clear what times do (or don’t) work for team communication, as well as which kinds of tools should be used for different types of messages.
02. Check in regularly
Even when you’re not face-to-face, you can still run effective meetings while working remotely. Set aside time for a brief daily conference call with your team, as well as a weekly one-on-one with each employee. This helps ensure that everyone is informed about the latest projects and tasks, and also presents opportunities for casual discussion and team bonding.
It’s also important that you schedule your check-ins at consistent times. This helps mimic the routine of an in-office workday and provides your employees with some structure so that they can more productively manage their time, boosting team motivation as a result.
03. Include remote workers in your decisions
When your employees feel disconnected, it’s easy to delegate tasks to them without including them in your decision-making. Despite the distance, you need to empower your remote workers to share their feedback, put forward their ideas, and take charge of projects.
Your daily team meetings and one-on-one check-ins are a great time to ask the team about upcoming tasks. As you speak with your team members, it’s important that you put your ego aside and let them contribute with their own approaches and perspectives.
Listening to your employees - and not just speaking your mind - is essential for helping your team members grow as professionals and feel that they are a vital part of your company. In addition, their individual viewpoints are sure to bring something new to the table that can benefit the discussion.
04. Maintain your company culture
While it’s tempting to forgo your company culture when you lack face-to-face interaction, the truth is that working remotely makes work culture more important than ever. Be sure to explicitly define your company values, and to embody these values in the way you engage with your team. You can even work together to create a document that clearly articulates your company’s identity and core values, and then circulate this document so that everyone has a copy for reference.
Then, take active steps to promote your company culture by giving your employees a variety of spaces to engage with one another, both personally and professionally. In addition to holding regular video chats, you can further encourage team bonding by opening company chat channels exclusively dedicated to leisure and fun.
05. Make time for virtual socializing
Productivity is often the number one concern for companies that manage remote workers. But setting aside time for social events can actually help productivity in the long run, since it keeps your employees energized and motivated about their job. It will also force employees to take a pause in the middle of the workday, minimizing the threat of overwork and burnout.
Even when in-person meetups aren’t an option, you can find creative alternatives. Start out your morning with a relaxing team coffee break over video chat, and reward employees for their hard work with a video happy hour at the end of the week.
You can also encourage employees to bond and better deal with stress at work by setting aside time for team games. Some team-building activities, such online trivia games, Two Truths and a Lie, and charades are easy to implement over a video conference. Ask your team to brainstorm some ideas, and feel free to be as creative as you wish.
06. Show you care
Don’t restrict your communication with your employees to business-related tasks. You should also periodically reach out to check in with how they’re feeling. Get to know them as individuals by asking them about their personal lives and hobbies, and help them get to know you better by sharing a bit about yourself. Show that you care about them as people, not just as employees, and don’t forget to offer them words of motivation and encouragement.
You should also be sure to show your remote workers that you’re thinking of them, even from afar. If a holiday is coming up, for example, try to do more than just write a message in the group chat. Hold a virtual company celebration, and have small gifts and greeting cards delivered to their door.
07. Reward them for their hard work
People stay at jobs for many reasons – because they enjoy what they do, because they have fun with their colleagues, or because they’re paid well. But if employees don’t feel that their effort is acknowledged or appreciated, they may begin to look elsewhere.
Offering even a small token of gratitude can make the difference between your remote workers feeling valued rather than excluded. Perks can range from a food and beverage gift card or company swag to employee discounts and year-end bonuses.
Find perks that fit your company culture (and budget) and invest in them. They will usually pay for themselves because happy, committed employees will mean a more productive and committed workforce for your business.
In these unprecedented times it's vital to keep your staff informed and appreciated. It's the little things that can make or break a business during these times.
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