The number of people working from home increased dramatically this week. The coronavirus is forcing organizations to rethink the way they do business and dust off policies for business continuity and remote workers. Shifting to a ‘home office’ might be a first for many employees, which means managers and their teams need to figure out how to focus, work, and ultimately be productive in a new (remote) environment. Here are a few ways to keep your team productive during remote working.
1) Increase the communication
Virus or not, clear communication with your employees and knowing exactly what’s expected is imperative for remote working. We recommend setting up tools like Slack, Skype, or Zoom, which can allow you to manage people virtually. Check in with your employees day-to-day and encourage them to actively check in with you and their teammates to increase morale and engagement.
Moreover, these online tools are great in creating ‘watercooler’ chat, where all the unofficial, off-topic, unrelated chatter happens. This is an integral part of employees bonding outside of work and creating trust between each other. This type of chatter is particularly important during this COVID19 crisis – remember that social distancing is not the same as social isolation. Actively encourage fun, off-topic conversations and sharing articles, stories, and thoughts to nurture your team.
2) Set clear expectations
One of the keys to remote work is to set clear expectations. Remote work can often be less structured than office work. Hence, avoid possible employee frustrations by establishing a clear work policy that includes:
- which channels you use for communication
- which channels you use for collaboration
- how you communicate your availability to the team (availability hours, when you’ll be unreachable)
- how remote workers should access and send sensitive documents
Check out our previous article on how to make remote working work for your team for more details on establishing clear work policies.
3) Improve team morale
As a manager, you have to be a cheerleader for the team and keep team morale up. In addition to actively engaging in work chat rooms (as mention in point #1), other engagement activities can include a book club, a fantasy hockey league, or a multiplayer online gaming tournament. Facilitating virtual social connections among your employees will increase engagement during the workweek and improve team morale.
4) Make full use of your performance management system
Does your performance management system allow you to communicate feedback on a regular basis? Can you document and track goals? Great performance management systems should be able to accommodate office and remote work. Your performance management system should keep individuals accountable with clear feedback and goals, and also allow for employees to track their progress regardless if they are remote or not.
When providing feedback, remember that feedback has to be effective. Delivering regular feedback to employees and encouraging them to do the same (360 degree feedback), helps everyone align with team objectives and encourages discussion on what is being done right and what can improve. For more details on why feedback is so important, you can check out our past article here.
What are your thoughts? Have any tips on remote working? Let us know!