Going the distance: Tips for managing and engaging remote workers
As the pandemic recedes remote working seems set to stay. So how do you manage employees who continue to work away from the office?
Where we are
The rapid development of ICT has enabled the move to distance working. Many organizations now have teams that include members who work in different countries. The pandemic though brought remote working to another level.
Enforced working from home (for those that could) tested digital technology and, by and large, it passed. And now remote working is something people are increasingly requesting as a way of resetting providing greater flexibility in their jobs and resetting their work-life balance.
Organizations see the benefits too. Offering the choice of remote working sends out the message you respect people’s wishes and that in turn gains your commitment and trust. The ability to work remotely can dramatically increase the talent pool while saving on office costs.
But a hybrid system that mixes office and home working require careful management to prevent those working remotely from feeling isolated and becoming disengaged.
Tips for managers and HR on managing remote employees
- Offer support: Ensure your remote workers have the infrastructure and the setup to do their job. Make sure they have seamless access to the resources and training they need to perform. Check regularly that they’re connected and engaged with what they’re tasked to do. Take steps to mitigate any feelings of isolation or marginalization.
- Show leadership: To manage remotely you need to employ a leadership style that promotes empathy and active listening. Provide remote employees with the opportunities and mechanisms to voice their ideas and concerns. Don’t let distance mean you ignore them. Inclusivity is the hallmark of a successful team regardless of where its members are based.
- Enable connectivity: Access to video conferencing tools like Zoom, MS Teams, and Google Meet is vital to connecting remote employees. Project management tools like Slack facilitate collaboration with other team members. Make these tools and all documentation and information accessible from mobile devices.
- Set up properly: Make sure your remote workers have the right office equipment to work productively from home. Consider using local office hubs that allow you to rent spaces in a shared office. These hubs are a halfway house between home and office and, as well as the infrastructure and space, offer some of the socialization that home workers may be missing.
- Use learning management platforms: Digitization is required for remote workers to access training and resources. An LMS or LXP offers a way of storing, organizing, standardizing, managing, and deploying digital assets. These platforms can become a one-stop-shop for information and learning that’s accessible to everyone no matter where they are.
- Adopt hybrid learning: There’s a danger that remote employees are excluded from training, fall behind, and become demotivated. Hybrid learning is a combination of in-person and online training that offers synchronous learning so that everyone’s on the same page if not in the same room.
- Ensure access: It’s no good providing the materials for distance working if people can’t access them. You need to guarantee access that doesn’t compromise firewalls and other data security measures. Also, make IT tech support easily accessible and enable it to respond quickly when technical problems arise.
- Set expectations: Managers need to communicate the behaviors expected from employees working remotely clearly. This can include agreeing on times when they’re to be available, participation in regular project meetings, and scheduling one-to-one catch-ups. Agree on minimum response times for tasks, but focus on deliverables and outcomes rather than on time spent at the desk. In setting, expectations don’t overlook flexibility which is a key appeal of remote working.
- Encourage socialization: Recognize the social challenges of remote working. Workplaces are social environments and removing opportunities for socialization can lead to a sense of isolation and indifference that can affect people’s performance and mental health. Set up social spaces on project apps to establish non-work connections through the posting of personal messages and the sharing of stories and photos. Organize online social events such as quizzes, coffee mornings, and clubs to encourage social interaction.
- Establish a culture of openness: Remote workers need to feel part of the team and the organization. Create a dialogue that allows the sharing of ideas and concerns with colleagues, managers, and HR. And encourage remote employees to start the conversation. Use technology to facilitate collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and social learning. Above all send a clear message that everyone’s input is valued.
Remote working offers benefits to employees and organizations. Managed right remote working can improve morale, increase employee engagement, and lead to better performance.
To find out more on how you can help your organization move forward to the post-pandemic era and engage remote workers, get in touch now.
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