As more companies are heading towards remote working, employees all over the world have no other option but to work from home. While remote working is certainly not a new concept and was already on the rise before the pandemic, recent times have made it more of a compulsion. Where in the past organizations had a limited set of remote workers, nowadays their entire workforce has gone remote. Managing remote employees on such a large scale can be extremely challenging. However, desperate times call for desperate measures and many companies are employing numerous strategies to strengthen their remote working teams.
These are the top 7 tips to help you in improving remote working and productivity of your employees.
- Invest in a collaboration and collaboration software
One of the biggest challenges of remote team management is keeping all your employees connected. Using the right tools and making the best of technology is crucial to ensure a smooth workflow within your employees. Sure, there are many communication apps out there through which you can connect with your employees, like WhatsApp or Skype, but these apps have a limited set of features that only cover a few aspects of remote working. Also, they come with a set of disadvantages of their own. Like for instance, you may have some employees working in countries where most of the communication apps are blocked.
Most of your problems will be solved if you have an online software program such as Workspee, that has all the features that you need to create a virtual office space for your employees. Instead of switching to different apps for different purposes, you can communicate with your employees, track their progress, set goals and deadlines, conduct meetings, share data and make important announcements through a single platform.
- Be available and approachable
When managing a team of remote workers, you need to set an example for them to follow. If you want your employees to be always available and respond to your queries instantly, you need to do the same for them. Open channels of communication with your employees and make them feel that they matter to you. Be available to them when they need you, and if you can, help them whenever they require assistance.
Studies have shown that employee productivity and engagement can be massively improved if the bosses are more approachable. The importance of being readily available to your employees doubles when you’re working remotely. Since your employees are not in close proximity with you, it’s hard for them to know if you’re available to them. Responding to them in a timely manner will assure them that you’re available to them whenever they need. In return, the will be obliged to do the same when you need them.
- Video chat conferencing
According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, 55% of any communication relies on body language whereas only 7% depends on spoken words. Any conversation that is done without non-verbal cues can be taken out of context and easily misunderstood. In remote working, meetings and one on one conversation can be a problem because of the physical distance between the employees. To remove this barrier, you can have regular video conferences and channel conversations with your employees. This way you can easily get your message across and avoid any confusion or misunderstanding. Video conferences also give every team member involved in meeting an equal opportunity to participate-something that is not easy to do during text or a telephonic conversation.
Video chats are also a great way to check in with your employees. If you have set working hours, it may be difficult to know which one your employees are actually present or not. A quick video call will let you know what your employees are up to.
- Be empathetic and flexible
While being empathetic with your employees is generally a nice gesture, it can be a very useful trait while managing your remote workers. It is important to understand that working from home has its fair share of challenges. Different time zones, technical errors, lack of internet access, personal life constraints are some of the common issues that your employees might be facing. Therefore it is important to set realistic expectations from your employees. When you put yourself in your employees shoes, you not only earn their trust, but you drive their motivation to do better.
Research has shown that leaders who are emotionally intelligent and are empathetic are more likely to have productive and dedicated staff who contribute to the overall success of their organization.
- Frequent team building activities and collaborative tasks
In May 2019, Ryan Hoover, the founder of Product Hunt started a twitter thread in which he asked remote workers about their biggest frustrations. Apart from communication issues and technical problems, many workers claimed that they felt isolated and distant from their coworkers. Because of this they felt demotivated and disengaged. Also, they felt that being physically apart makes collaboration extremely difficult.
Physically meeting and interacting with our colleagues plays a huge role in determining our work performance. After all, we humans are social animals and we thrive and grow best when working together.
Keeping all of your remote workers connected is very important for their productivity. This can be done by assigning frequent collaborative tasks and projects, and by conducting team building activities. Online workshops, webinars, virtual meetings and newsfeed can help bring all your employees together. Virtual team building games and exercises are also great for improving collaboration and employee engagement and productivity.
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- Encourage and motivate
In the same twitter thread by Ryan Hoover, many remote team also said that they don’t feel encouraged enough to work. They feel like their work is not taken seriously, either that or they don’t feel appreciated enough. If that is what employees felt in 2019, imagine how they must feel in 2020 when most of them are being forced to work from home even if they are not well equipped to do so. Besides, in such a time of crisis when everyone’s morale is already low, encouraging and acknowledging your employees can be a ray of sunshine. Even by saying simple phrases such as ‘good work’ and ‘keep it up’ can boost the confidence of your employees.
If you are using Workspee, you can share achievements of your employees on the newsfeed and provide positive feedback.
- Avoid micromanaging and focus on the outcome
No one likes to be micromanaged, and for remote workers, being constantly tracked can be extremely annoying and frustrating. Trying to manage and control each and every aspect of your team members’ performance, especially if they are geographically apart, can have a negative outcome instead of a positive one. Instead of focusing on how the work is done, try to focus on the end product, especially in collaborative tasks. Trust your team members and their skills. As a manager, you can give cues and help them when needed but when it comes to the end result, consider all the restraints your remote team members must be facing.
Remote working is a trend that is likely to stay. With companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple making remote working a permanent part of their companies, it appears to be the future of the corporate world. Having the right strategies and the use of appropriate online tools are crucial in determining a smooth virtual workflow and effective remote working.